PUBLISHED: 16:32 16 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:56 23 August 2010
CRIMEFIGHTERS and an insurance company have launched a scheme to combat the staggering rise in the theft of lead from church roofs. Congregational and General Insurance and Crimestoppers have created a Church Alert scheme after cases of church lead theft
CRIMEFIGHTERS and an insurance company have launched a scheme to combat the staggering rise in the theft of lead from church roofs.
Congregational and General Insurance and Crimestoppers have created a Church Alert scheme after cases of church lead theft rocketed by 86 per cent last year.
Together they have produced a website and a series of posters offering tips on how to minimise the risk of lead theft, such as the use of anti-theft paint, the planting of thorny bushes to deter would-be thieves and recruiting residents to keep an eye on churches.
Carlo Cavaliere, managing director of Congregational, said: "We firmly believe that prevention is better than cure and our dedicated campaign should help all our church policyholders to minimise their risk of becoming the latest victims of this fast-growing problem, even if they don't personally feel their church is at risk."
Police say the rise in lead thefts is down to rises in the prices of metal driven by the developing economies in the Far East. Scrap dealers will now pay more that £1 for a kilo of lead.
Last year in Dartford, Gravesend and Swanley there were 400 incidents of lead thefts.
In August £1,000 worth of lead was stolen from the roof of St Peter and St Paul's Church in Swanscombe.
Reverend David Scott said: "It's very frustrating. We are trying to preserve an A1 listed building.
"Police had said we should have it replaced with fibreglass or something less expensive. Churches all over the country are facing this problem."
The thefts are not confined to churches. More than £5,000 worth of lead was stolen from the roof of a wooden gazebo from Brent Primary School, in Dartford, last November. York Road Junior School in Dartford was also targeted and in August a man was given a 12-month conditional discharge after stealing £1,500 worth of lead from the roof of a public toilet in Parrock Street, Gravesend.