Thieves scaled a church in Seaford in an attempt to steal lead from the roof overnight on Thursday July 25 and Friday July 26.
They rolled up lead from the roof of the Church of St Thomas More in Sutton Road, but did not take it away.
Sussex Police are appealing for witnesses.
A police spokesman said: “This sort of incident is new to Seaford, although like everywhere we have previously had a number of thefts of scrap metal.
“The public are our eyes and ears and it is important that if they see or hear any suspicious activity around buildings to call us immediately, even if it happens during the day.
“Don’t be fooled into thinking that because activity is happening during the day that it must be legitimate.
“Often that’s what the thieves want you to think.”
Sussex Police said they estimated that £1,000 worth of damage was caused to the roof.
Father Paul Jennings said since the lead had not been taken away, it was possible for it to be put back on the roof.
He added: “You can’t be surprised when lead is stolen from church roofs. It’s just one of those things.
“It is annoying but it doesn’t come as a big surprise.”
When lead is taken from buildings the roof is no longer waterproof while repairs are underway so it can lead to some water damage and prove expensive.
The price of lead has increased significantly in recent times as a result of high demand in China.
Anyone with information should call 101 quoting serial 497 of 25 July or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.