Churches targets for lead thieves

Rural churches are being advised to take extra precautions after a spate in lead thefts from church rooftops including Potton.

The increase in lead thefts coincides with a reduction in the number of thefts for scrap metal after its value went down thanks to recent legislation.

A Bedfordshire Police spokesman said: “This year to date we have already seen ten churches targeted.

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“Previous years have only recorded six incidents over a 12 month period.”

Churches that have been also been targeted include Chalgrave, Dunstable, Eaton Bray, Pavenham, Ravensden and Milton Ernest.

The roof of St Mary’s Church in Potton was badly damaged during heavy rainfall after thieves stole lead in June this year.

They stole a large area of lead from the roof on June 22, just as storms hit the area, leaving the Chancel water damaged.

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Roofing contractor Colin Seaman came to the church’s aid to put up waterproof felt and battening and many volunteers came forward to help with the cleanup.

But during the raid the heavy rolls of lead had badly damaged some of the stonework around the roof parapet as they were being pushed off the roof.

The lead was then dragged across the churchyard and dropped down onto the grass verge in Hatley Road, ready to be loaded on a lorry.

The church is now actively fundraising to finish repairs to the roof and strengthen it against the elements.

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The Beds Police Spokesman said it was important for all places of worship to carry out regular security checks on their roof spaces.

He said: “Particularly as the weather is currently fine before the autumn begins, bringing with it more rain.

“A quick review of access to your roofs will highlight any climbing aids left in place, such as benches and wheelie bins, which can be stored away from the building wall.

“Items such as drainpipes and awnings can be protected by using anti-climb paint with the appropriate signage.”