Historic York stone stolen from St Mary in the Baum church

Date published: 29 January 2021

Historic York flagstones have been stolen from the Grade-I listed St Mary in the Baum church, part of the Toad Lane conservation area.

The recent theft, discovered on Tuesday 26 January, is the second time the thieves have struck since 16 January, and the third in the space of 12 months.

The theft is heritage crime which carries harsher sentencing due to the impact of damage or vandalism to national heritage assets such as listed buildings like the church.

The guidelines came into place in October 2019, and is the first time English and Welsh courts can take the damage caused into account during sentencing.

The theft of the stones, which date back centuries, have devastated the church council.

Andrea Pollock, a member of the church council, told Rochdale Online they were 'frustrated' at the crimes, likening the scene to a 'ploughed field'.

She said: “It’s annoying because this is the third time in 12 months now, and we replaced the stones not too long ago. They’ve taken about 25 stones and damaged others by chiselling them out.

“It’s the damage they cause which is frustrating, and the money to replace. We’ve claimed twice now on our insurance, but that’s still £500.

“It is a heritage crime and it’s so important to preserve heritage for the generations to come. It looks like a ploughed field.”


Historic flagstones have been stolen from St Mary in the Baum


Andrea added: “I don’t want them to come back, but I don’t want them to strike anywhere else. Just leave us alone. Hopefully someone will have a change of heart and bring them back.”

Members of the church council are now checking on the grounds each day, and have added that no work is being carried out on site.

“We thought maybe the thieves were striking in the night, but because there’s so little footfall in the area, it’s possible someone is wearing construction gear to remove the stones as you wouldn’t question it. This isn’t the case: no work is being carried out so if you do see someone like this at the church, please ring the police,” Andrea continued.

Andrea also praised the response from both the police and the council’s crime prevention officer.

She said: “They’ve been great.”

In December 2020, similar crimes took place in Middleton, with historic York flagstones being stolen from the Hopwood Hall estate, St Leonard’s Church and the Olde Boar’s Head.


A spokesperson for GMP said: "We were called on Friday 15 January to a report of a large quantity of Yorkshire stone slabs being stolen from St Mary’s Church between 6-15 January.

"We were called on Tuesday 26 January to another report of stone being stolen from the church between 20-26 January. No arrests have been made."

Anyone with information should call police on 101.

Details can be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Rochdale Borough Council has also been contacted for comment.

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