More than 1,000 metal thefts occur every week across the country as the spiralling crime blights almost every aspect of British life, particulary churches. Here a senior figure in the Church of England describes the “trauma”.
Writes the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev John Pritchard, in The Telegraph:
“Imagine you are a faithful churchwarden in a church in a small industrial town. You come in to church early one morning only to find that for the third time that week lead had been stolen from your church roof.
Imagine it’s Christmas morning in a village church in Buckinghamshire. The priest arrives for the early service to find water dripping relentlessly through the roof at several points.
Instead of ‘Happy Christmas’, worshippers are greeted with an urgent request that they go and find a bucket.
Imagine another village church where a large amount of money has been raised at considerable effort to preserve priceless medieval wall paintings. Lead theft from the roof has meant water damaging those wonderful wall paintings and yet more money having to be raised.
Nationally, around ten churches every day experience this kind of trauma. My experience is that the congregations are wonderfully resilient. They declare business as usual and get on with repairing the roof and worshipping God. But the frustration is enormous.
Metal has been watermarked, cameras installed, alarms put are in place, churchwardens have spent the night in churches to protect them – but still it goes on. A whole church bell is stolen from a village near Reading, a war memorial is removed from another church, somewhere else the thieves have returned yet again – now they know the way on to the roof…