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Rising lead prices 'fuelling thefts from church roofs'

Tue 07 Dec 2010

Churches are increasingly being targeted by lead thieves due to the rising cost of the metal.

According to Church estates commissioner Tony Baldry, lead is being stolen from church roofs in the UK "night after night".

This, he said, is having a "devastating" impact on the morale of parishioners and the wider communities.

Mr Baldry also warned that many churches have fallen victim to the crime more than once, as thieves have returned after the missing lead was replaced.

He described the problem as one of the most serious threats currently facing the Church of England's buildings and called on the relevant authorities to take it seriously.

Mr Baldrey added that lead thieves are identifying potential targets with online resource Google Earth.

John Rees, a partner at Winckworth Sherwood Solicitors, commented: "These crimes are deeply dispiriting for the valiant and selfless people who put so much into maintaining the historic fabric of our buildings.

"I am glad to see that the Home Office - perhaps as an aspect of maintaining a Big Society - are putting resources into combating this kind of crime.

"It was reported some years ago that a couple of men found on a church roof late one night were simply let go after they claimed that they were merely sight-seeing!

"Lead is a valuable commodity and replacing it costs even more in time and effort, as well as in hard-raised voluntary giving."
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