THREE Lithuanian men accused of conspiring to steal lead from churches in villages around Grantham have today (Wednesday) appeared at Lincoln Crown Court.
Tadas Andruska, 35, Andrius Cereska, 30, and Andrius Kvedavas, 29, are charged with stealing lead from 22 churches across Lincolnshire, plus another church in Sutterton and a Grade II listed church in Leicestershire.
All three men spoke only to confirm their names when they appeared in the dock for the five-minute hearing.
The 22 churches allegedly targeted by the men between January 1 and September 24, 2011, include St James’s Church at Aslackby and churches in Great Gonerby, Fulbeck, Hougham and Newton.
The trio were arrested after police executed synchronised warrants at four addresses in Lincoln.
Police said the arrests were made as a culmination of a six-month intelligence-led operation into metal thefts.
Andruska, of Roman Pavement, Lincoln, Cereska, of Laceby Street, Lincoln, and Kvedavas, of Maple Street, Lincoln, were all remanded in to custody by Judge Sean Morris and will next appear at Lincoln Crown Court on May 18.
A fourth man also appeared before Lincoln Crown Court charged with handling goods stolen from churches.
Vitalijus Vilkys, 27, of Nelson Street, Lincoln, was granted conditional bail and will also appear at Lincoln Crown Court on May 18.
A fifth person, who police say is a 39-year-old local man, has been released on police bail until April 25.