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Appeal from police after series of lead thefts from church roofs

Police are appealing for communities to report suspicious activity at churches following a series of lead thefts.

Over the last six weeks, 10 churches have reported thefts. These occurred in Tallington, Swinstead, Navenby, Eagle, North Scarle, Haconby, Stoke Rochford, Skillington, North Witham and Hough on the Hill. North Witham resident and parish councillor David Bellamy told the Journal this week that villagers believe the same gang is going from village to village targeting churches.

This type of theft can cost churches tens of thousands of pounds and can mean that rainwater gets into a church and damages the interior.

Lead has been stolen from the roof of St Mary's Church in North Witham. (8828519)
Lead has been stolen from the roof of St Mary's Church in North Witham. (8828519)

We are asking for the support of local residents and especially people who live close enough to be able to see their church. The message from officers is please report any suspicious activity and if you notice unusual vehicles or behaviour in the vicinity of a church please call 101 quoting ‘Operation Brompton 2’.

Descriptions and vehicle registration numbers are extremely helpful, but never put yourself at any risk.

Sally Picker from Lincolnshire Police’s Crime Prevention Team, adds: “Sometimes it is difficult to see that lead is missing and unfortunately some churches only notice when it has rained. There are however some key things to look out for and residents can play a big part in helping us prevent these crimes.

Lead has been stolen from the roof of St Mary's Church in North Witham. (8828523)
Lead has been stolen from the roof of St Mary's Church in North Witham. (8828523)

“If you do live near a church and hear dull thudding noises, it could be lead being dropped from the church roof. Another giveaway that lead has been stripped from a roof is if you see divots in the grass around a church or on gravel pathways. If you spot either of these signs, please call us on 101 immediately.

“There are measures that can be taken to significantly reduce the vulnerability of our beautiful churches and our Crime Reduction Tactical Advisors are available to visit and make recommendations. Please call me on 07867936487 or email sally.picker@lincs.pnn.police.uk for further advice.”

Measures which could be taken to increase security include:

  • Installing a roof alarm;
  • Making sure that gates cannot be lifted from their hinges, and ensure they are locked at night;
  • Keeping trees well pruned, with branches taken up to around 2.5m to help with natural surveillance;
  • Making regular checks of the roof;
  • Securing wheelie bins so they cannot be used to drag lead to a vehicle
  • Ensuring any tools and machinery in outbuildings are securely locked and properly marked;
  • Taking professional advice about lighting for the church and churchyard
  • Cutting back foliage around church doors.

Anyone with information about the lead thefts should contact Lincolnshire Police on 101. If a crime is in progress, call 999. You can also call Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555111.


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