Lincolnshire churches warned of metal theft rise by insurer

Churches in Lincolnshire are being warned to remain vigilant amid fears of a rise in metal theft as the last COVID-related restrictions lift.

Lead thefts are on the rise in Lincolnshire.
Lead thefts are on the rise in Lincolnshire.

The warning comes from specialist insurer Ecclesiastical, which saw a fall in theft of metal claims during the pandemic, but says criminal activity is likely to rise again over the coming months.

The introduction of UK-wide restrictions limited opportunities for criminal gangs to steal metal, including lead and copper, from the country’s heritage buildings.

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But with restrictions largely gone and against a challenging economic backdrop, there are worries there could be a spike in criminal activity.

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 2022.

Earlier this month, All Saints Church in Holbeach had lead stolen from the roof twice in a fortnight.

Ecclesiastical is urging churches in Lincolnshire to review their security arrangements, and recommends measures such as security lights and roof alarms, installing additional lighting, anti-climb paint and CCTV can also help to prevent buildings from being seen as easy targets for criminals.

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: “The last two years has seen a drop in claims, but we believe that the UK-wide lockdowns have played a part in this.There is a risk that the continuing economic downturn in the UK and high value of scrap metal could see an increase in theft of metal from historical buildings such as churches, which is why it is vital that 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.

"It is vital that churches in Lincolnshire take steps to protect themselves from thieves and follow our guidance which is available through our website at www.ecclesiastical.com/risk-management/church-metal-theft.