Thieves stole more than 20 flagstones from a church yard in Cleckheaton.

The latest theft happened at Whitechapel Church, Cleckheaton when thieves left a ‘hop-scotch’ of soil and flagstones behind.

Churchwarden Tom Pinder said: “This was not an opportunist crime and must have involved a professionals as the weight of these stones was about two tons.”

Other churches have had thefts recently and local clergy are warning others in case this is the beginning of another phase of vandalism.

The church is now hoping insurance will cover the cost of the flagstones which were stolen in the early hours of August 14.

The discovery was made by the church just hours after a ceremony to commemorate 100 years since the start of the First World War.

Spenborough British Legion Branch Chairman Eddie Morton said: “There aren’t sufficient expletives to describe the individuals who carry out these thefts.”

Kirklees Crime Prevention Officer Jenny Dolley said: “The campaign was launched on Yorkshire Day and is part of a Safer Communities initiative.

“Its aim is to raise awareness of the stone thefts and encourage people to report all removal of stone to Crimestoppers, whether it looks legitimate or not as we have an increase of thefts with people looking like genuine workers. This will assist with intelligence gathering and information coming through to the police to help us tackle this.”

Whitechapel Church in Cleckheaton
 

Kirklees Rural Neighbourhood Policing Team commander Insp Mark Trueman said at the campaign launch: “As with any crime there is always a victim and stone theft is no exception. Sadly, not only will the owner of the stone be a victim, so will our great county of Yorkshire. Once the stone has gone from an area it has gone forever; which leaves a change in our landscape.

“If enquiries find the work to be genuine, that is not a problem. This process allows us to gather information to establish who are genuine stone removers and who are not. By working together we will make sure that our Yorkshire is not stolen.”

People can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously if they prefer not to contact the police by calling 0800 555 111 or completing an online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Earlier this month, in a separate case, two people admitted stealing stone from Longley and Lowerhouses Community Church, formerly known as Longley Baptist Church.

The stone flags were removed from the cellar steps and worth £1,000.