Dio­cese in call for vig­i­lance af­ter lead thefts spate

Yorkshire Post - - NEWS -

THE DIO­CESE of York has asked the pub­lic for help af­ter a spate of lead thefts at five of its churches.

His­toric church build­ings at Sled­mere, Drax, Skip­with, Cot­ting­ham and North Cave have been tar­geted in the past two months, with lead roof­ing and flash­ings used to wa­ter­proof the struc­tures taken.

Keith Hal­l­i­day, Church Build­ings Ad­viser for the Dio­cese, said: “Com­mu­ni­ties feel very pro­tec­tive to­wards their church and these thefts are felt very keenly; re­place­ment is ex­tremely costly and in­sur­ance cover is re­stricted.

“We work with in­sur­ers and with the po­lice to of­fer ad­vice on im­prov­ing se­cu­rity but in the end the only pro­tec­tion against this crim­i­nal ac­tion is vig­i­lance on ev­ery­one’s part.

“If you see some­one work­ing on a church roof, don’t hes­i­tate to ask them about the work they’re do­ing - where it’s le­git­i­mate there may be an in­ter­est­ing story about a well-loved build­ing - but if you’re con­cerned then call the po­lice.”

Re­moval of lead sheets ex­poses the tim­ber roof and of­ten the his­toric in­te­rior and con­tents of the church to wa­ter ingress and in many cases the first sign that lead has been stolen from a high-level roof is wa­ter dam­age un­der­neath.

Michael An­gell, Church Op­er­a­tions Di­rec­tor at Ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal In­sur­ance, the UK’s lead­ing in­surer of church build­ings, said lead thefts had fallen since their peak in 2008 to 2011, due to height­ened se­cu­rity mea­sures and greater con­trols at scrap yards.

He said: “How­ever, since 2015 we have seen an in­crease in large thefts per­pe­trated by or­gan­ised gangs, which in­volved the re­moval of en­tire church roofs.

“This trend has not de­clined and as the value of lead con­tin­ues to in­crease and it is fair to as­sume that the vol­ume and sever­ity of in­ci­dents of metal theft will also in­crease.”

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