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Cumbrian churches urged to 'take steps' after rise in metal theft sees insurance claims rise 26%

Churches in Cumbria are being urged to take steps to prevent metal theft following a spate of incidents across the country.

Lead on church roofs is often targeted by thieves


Last year, claims rose by more than a quarter (26%) following the lifting of lockdown restrictions prompting fears churches will again be targeted.

High demand for copper and lead, driven by an increase in metal prices, has seen several churches already affected by theft in the first quarter of 2023.


The recent incidents of metal theft combined with a challenging economic backdrop has raised concerns there could be an increase in criminal activity putting churches at risk.


The introduction of UK wide restrictions during the pandemic limited opportunities for criminal gangs to steal metal from the country’s heritage buildings.


Last year, claims rose by more than a quarter (26%) following the lifting of lockdown restrictions prompting fears churches will again be targeted.


Ecclesiastical is urging churches across Cumbria to carry out reviews of their security arrangements as a result of the recent increase. The specialist insurer recommends measures including the use of security lights and roof alarms.


Other measures such as installing additional lighting to increase surveillance levels, use of anti-climb paint and CCTV can help deter thefts. Making life difficult for metal thieves by removing easy means of access onto roofs, such as waters butts, benches, bins and ladders.


Some churches and heritage properties that have been victims of metal theft incidents have replaced stolen materials with alternatives, such as stainless steel, which are less appealing to criminals.


Jo Whyman, risk management director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “While there hasn’t been the return to levels of theft we were seeing before the pandemic, there is a risk that the continuing economic downturn in the UK could see an increase in theft of metal from historical buildings such as churches, so it’s vital they take steps to protect their premises from unscrupulous offenders.


“Theft of metal can have a devastating impact on churches and heritage buildings. Aside from the cost of replacing the metal, further damage can happen as a result of exposure to the elements which can cost thousands of pounds.


“We’re urging churches across the country take steps to protect themselves.”


Detective Chief Supt Taylor head of Opal, the National Intelligence unit for Organised Acquisitive crime, said: “The impact of this type of crime is significant. Not only does it result in the loss of the metal and the subsequent cost of replacement but also causes upset and disruption to members of the community at their place of worship.


"Opal work with law enforcement across the country as well as partners to combat this type of criminality."


Source: www.newsandstar.co.uk


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