'It's absolutely awful' - Lead thieves target churches in Shropshire
Two churches in the north of Shropshire have been left counting the cost after being targeted by lead thieves.
All Saints Church in Clive, near Wem, and St Mary's Church in Ellesmere have become the latest victims of lead thefts.
It comes after St Mary Magdalene Church in Hadnall was targeted just over a month ago, with thieves stripping six and a half lengths of 12ft lead drain piping from the church on Shrewsbury Road.
The building is still awaiting repairs.
Lead guttering was stolen from St Mary's Church in Ellesmere, between noon on September 7 and 10pm on September 8.
Police said some piping had also been stolen in a previous raid in recent weeks at the church.
Church warden Rodney Stokes said two downpipes were stolen in two overnight raids and he estimated that it will cost hundreds of pounds to replace them.
He said it has also caused damp to form on one of the walls of the building.
Mr Stokes said: "If we use lead to replace it they will only come again.
"We haven't decided what we are going to do yet.
"It's absolutely awful and very distressing.
"I can't believe people would do such a thing."
Three downpipes and guttering were also removed from All Saints Church, Clive, between September 2 and 7.
Bob Udy, who is responsible for maintenance at the church, said: "We have replaced the downpipes already. We didn't want water going into the structure of the church.
"We haven't had any problems like this in the past although there seems to be a spate of lead thefts around the area at the moment. It is despicable."
St Mary Magdalene Church in Hadnall had been targeted sometime between July 26 and August 2.
Kath Evans, lay reader, said it was the third time that lead thieves had preyed on the church in the past 10 years.
It has left the church with bills totalling more than £20,000.
Ms Evans said: "The first time they stole downpipes and lead on the north side of the roof. We put all that right.
"Within a couple of years we had the lead stolen from the north side of the roof again.
"We repaired that with asphalt and lead replacement flashing.
"Recently we discovered all the lead downpipes had been taken.
"We are in the process of getting that repaired. We have no wish to replace them with lead again."
It is not known if the raids at the churches are linked.
Anyone with any information is asked to call police on 101.