Lincolnshire Police have issued advice to churches and owners of other old buildings in rural areas after a spate of high value thefts of lead from roofs.
The force is appealing for information following the series of lead thefts from churches, mainly in the Sleaford area over the last few weeks.
Lincolnshire Police says it has received five reports of thefts between September 21 and September 24 at: St Mary’s Church, Main Street, Wilsford; St Mary and All Saints Church, Swarby; St Andrew’s Church, Kelby; an outbuilding at a property on Main Street, Wilsford; and St Mary’s Church, Creeton Road, Swinstead.
The theft from Swarby is estimated at around £30,000 and the major loss at Wilsford is quoted at nearer £80,000 in what is being seen as a ‘professional’ series of systematic raids on secluded churches in quiet areas within the space of afew hours.
These incidents, and another between September 3 and September 6 at St Andrew’s Church, Irnham, are all being linked.
Detective Inspector Jon Shield said: “This type of theft can cost churches hundreds of thousands of pounds.
“Aside from the loss of the lead, damage caused can often mean that water gets into the church itself and damage the interior.
“This is heritage crime and I don’t want to see an increase in this type of offence.
“I would urge people, especially in rural locations, to be extra vigilant. We need the help of the public with this type of investigation so please report any suspicious activity to us.
“We take these crimes very seriously and will do everything we can to bring those responsible to justice.”
There are several measures that can be taken to increase security, including:
* Make sure that gates cannot be lifted from their hinges, and ensure they are locked at night;
* Keep trees well pruned, with branches taken up to around 2.5m to help with natural surveillance;
* Install a roof alarm;
* Apply anti-climb paint;
* Make regular checks of the roof;
* Ensure any tools and machinery in outbuildings are securely locked and properly marked;
* Install low-level lighting for use between dusk and dawn;
* Cut back foliage around church doors.
For further advice about security, contact Sally Picker on 07867 936487.
Anyone with information about the lead thefts should contact Lincolnshire Police on 101.
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555111.