Metal theft from churches is reported to be on the rise again.
The crime had reached epic proportions a couple of years ago, fuelled by a rise in the price of metals such as lead, but several high profile convictions and new security tactics by churches had seen a quiet period since.
However, Lincolnshire Police are now appealing for witnesses, and warning others to be on the alert, after reports coming in over the weekend that three village churches in the Sleaford area have been targeted by lead thieves.
Overnight on Thursday to Friday, Sleaford officers say three high value lead thefts were carried out at Wilsford (which has been targeted in the past), Swarby and Kelby.
Sleaford police tweeted: “Please could all church wardens check their respective churches. This one (Kelby) was a flat roof and hard to spot. Be mindful of any suspicious vehicles and call 101 or 999 if urgent.”
About 2m x 7m was taken from the south roof and 8m x 2.5m from the rear roof of Kelby church.
Kelby church wardens have stripped the remaining, lower grade lead which was left behind and put a temporary covering on. There was luckily no water damage inside, according to Rev Sonia Barron, Rural Dean of Loveden deanery, which includes Wilsford and Kelby.
She said the lead was taken from the north side of the roof of Wilsford church.
She said: “It is disappointing that the churches in Wilsford and Kelby in the East Loveden parish are the latest victims of lead theft.
“It is believed that thieves came to Wilsford in the early hours of Thursday morning.
“A temporary covering has been placed on the roof at both churches so as to protect the interior of the buildings while the insurance company continues with the claims process. The police have been notified, and we are helping them with their enquiries. We would urge anyone who saw anything to contact the police.”
She said that the thieves had literally cut the lead off the roof, adding: “Churches are places of gathering in the community and when materials are stolen it leaves them open to further damage. When people remove parts of buildings it is the community that suffers.”
Lead was also reported stolen from an outbuilding of a property in Wilsford Main Street and from Swinstead Church over the weekend.
It is claimed around £30,000 worth of lead has been stolen from the whole of the rear of Swarby church covering the whole of the south chancel an area of 12m by 4m.
Lead had been previously stolen seven years ago.