Leicestershire Police is holding a lead theft prevention seminar in Melton tomorrow (Thursday) a bid to raise
awareness of the issue and stop offences taking place.
The seminar is open to anyone who has an interest in stopping lead theft from churches and is being held at St Mary’s Church between 1pm and 4pm.
A number of key organisations, including Crimewatch, Historic England, Ecclesiastical Insurance, the Diocese of Leicester and the police will be giving presentations on the steps that can be taken to prevent church lead theft.
Since March last year 20 churches in Leicestershire and Rutland, including several in the Melton area, have been targeted – with 10 of those offences occurring since January 7, 2016.
Crime reduction officer Mick Kaiser, who has organised the seminar, said: “
He said; “Lead theft is a crime that strikes at the heart of our communities, especially when it’s taken from the roofs of churches. Often the lead itself is worth several thousand pounds but the cost to repair the damage to the building and replace the lead can be four or five times the value of the lead that is taken.
“It’s very sad when thieves target our places of worship. The high value of scrap metal continues to drive up demand and leaves our churches and other buildings vulnerable to lead thieves.”
Leicestershire Police is asking people who live near churches to be their eyes and ears and report any suspicious behaviour immediately to the police. They are also working with the Diocese of Leicester to deliver crime prevention leaflets to residents around every church in Leicestershire and Rutland.
The Archdeacon of Leicester, the Venerable Tim Stratford, said: “The increasing instances of lead theft from both rural and urban churches is financially crippling for many congregations.
“The high cost of material stolen and damage to our historic churches is not reimbursed by insurers and the church members and local communities are left to foot the bill. We need the help of neighbours and the police
to help prevent the crime and to ensure churches do not have to close due to insufficient funding for repairs.”
Police are urging people living near churches to report any suspicious activity to them immediately on 101.