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Hampshire churches warned of rise in metal thefts

CHURCHES in Hampshire are being urged to take steps to prevent metal theft following a string of incidents.

Churches warned of rise of metal theft following string of incidents (Image: Ecclesiastical Insurance)

The warning comes from specialist insurer Ecclesiastical following the recent theft of lead from the roof of churches across the south of England.

The most recent reported incident of lead theft in Hampshire was at Ampfield Parish Church in 2019, when more than 24 metres of lead was stolen.

High demand for copper and lead, driven by an increase in metal prices, has seen several churches already affected by theft. The recent incidents of metal theft combined with a challenging economic backdrop have raised concerns there could be an increase in criminal activity putting churches at risk.

Ecclesiastical is urging churches across the country 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 water butts, benches, bins and ladders.

Some churches and heritage properties which 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, the increase over the last year and cases already in 2023 are a cause for concern.

“Recent trends have seen thieves targeting other metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium which can be found in catalytic converters. However, 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.”

Anyone with information in relation to lead theft is asked to report it to their local police force via 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to report crimes anonymously.

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