Thieves who stole several tonnes of Yorkshire stone that had lain at a historic church for more than a century have been branded “appalling”.
Officials at St Saviour’s Church in Richmond Hill believe about £8,000 of slabs were taken in several raids.
They are now facing the prospect of replacing an entire path running through the middle of the church graveyard.
Church warden Kevin Austin said: “I think people will be disgusted that someone could have the audacity to steal like this from a church.”
The church was opened by renowned clergyman Edward Pusey in 1845 and had burials in the graveyard until the 1850s when a cholera epidemic prompted the government to ban them.
The Yorkshire stone path, leading to the west entrance, had been in situ since at least 1890.
But thieves took the slabs – some six inches thick – at some point between January 1 and Wednesday last week.
Mr Austin said: “We don’t often come around this side of the church so we didn’t notice it initially. When I saw what had happened I couldn’t believe it.”
Police are appealing for information.
Insp Mark Wheeler, who leads the Inner East Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “It is appalling that someone would steal from a church in this way.
“We are investigating the theft and would appeal for anyone who witnessed anything suspicious to contact us.
“A large amount of stone has been taken and it’s likely to have taken some time and required a vehicle.
“We would also like to hear from anyone who has recently been offered stone for sale in suspicious circumstances.”
Call the Inner East NPT via 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.