CALLOUS thieves have stolen lead off the roof of Darfield Community Centre and neighbouring bungalows.

They climbed the roof of the popular centre, on Illsley Road, as part of a spree of thefts in the area - predominantly old aged pensioner bungalows.

Properties on Darhaven were also targeted by the thieves, who struck in the early hours of Thursday last week.

Don Bishop is treasurer of Darfield Crime and Safety Group, which meets at the centre. He is also one of the centre directors.

He was alerted to the lead thefts by SYP Alerts, the new system employed by South Yorkshire Police which notifies residents of crime in their area.

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The alert read: “At 1.42am on Thursday 17 May, a resident called SYP to report two males on the roofs of old aged pensioners’ bungalows on Darhaven. The caller stated they believed the males were attempting to steal lead. Officers attended within ten minutes and an area search was unsuccessful.

“It was clear a number of bungalows had suffered at attempts to steal lead which had been peeled back. Residents are asked to be vigilant and report suspicious activity via 101.”

Don said he reported the damage to Berneslai Homes, who told him it could be 25 days until it was repaired. But after Coun Pauline Markham followed it up, that has dropped to within a week.

Don said: “I looked at the roof of the first bungalow next door to the centre and that has a lump on it as if it had been peeled off the chimney. I knocked on the door to tell them but they didn’t answer - people are scared to because on top of all this, we are having people knocking on doors and running away at 3am too.

“I noticed it at the centre on Thursday night, when I went in to put the bingo away and saw the brattishing hanging down with no lead underneath. It is definitely unusual and the first time we have been targeted around here. They have obviously had a go at taking it and maybe been disturbed, to have left it behind like that.”

Coun Pauline Markham is chairman of the centre.

She said the theft of the lead has left an area above the kitchen space vulnerable until repairs can be carried out.

She said: “It is quite frightening what these people are doing. The worry is they are targeting old people who are elderly and vulnerable.

“From my point of view we need more of a police presence in the area. I’m aware they have been cut but it is no use just driving around, we need them on the streets and being seen.

“If the rain gets into the community centre it could put it out of action and the effect would be devastating on the lonely and isolated who make use of it.

“It is really well used for everything from Zumba classes to the ward alliance meetings. It is really the hub around there and has taken off in a big way. It is flourishing and really didn’t need this happening to it.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 with incident number 55 of May 17.