The theft of lead and other valuable metals from churches is on the increase, according to insurers Ecclesiastical.
More than 2500 churches made insurance claims after having been hit by metal thieves in 2011, the highest number since 2008.
Worst hit were churches in the diocese of Chelmsford where over 90 claims were made in 2011, they were closely followed by the dioceses of Lincoln and Lichfield, both with more than 80 claims.
Metal roofed churches are sometimes considered as ‘soft targets’ by thieves who look to cash in on rising scrap metal prices offered by unscrupulous dealers.
Other common targets are railways where the theft of copper cables has caused significant transport disruption to commuters throughout the year.
According to figures gathered by Ecclesiastical, 18% of UK adults claim that metal theft has had a direct impact on their life, because of its effect on buildings and infrastructure, and 50% of the British public said they would ‘strongly support’ tougher sentencing for criminals convicted of stealing metal from churches.
John Coates, Ecclesiastical‟s Direct Insurance Services Director, said:
“2011 has been a very tough year with incidents of metal theft from churches becoming virtually endemic. If there is any light at the end of the tunnel, it’s the groundswell of public awareness of the problem this year and the growing sense of outrage.”
Churches are encouraged to take measures to protect their roofs from crooks, by installing security alarms, marking the metal with ‘smart water’ and joining Neighbourhood Watch schemes.
January 3rd, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross