More lead roofing plundered

CELIA WIGG Another rural community is counting the cost after thieves plundered valuable lead from a village hall roof to sell as scrap. Old Buckenham has joined the growing list of towns and villages across the region whose churches and civic buildings have been targeted in a nationwide epidemic of thefts, sparked by the soaring demand for lead, copper and other metals that has sent prices sky high.

CELIA WIGG

Another rural community is counting the cost after thieves plundered valuable lead from a village hall roof to sell as scrap.

Old Buckenham has joined the growing list of towns and villages across the region whose churches and civic buildings have been targeted in a nationwide epidemic of thefts, sparked by the soaring demand for lead, copper and other metals that has sent prices sky high.

About six metres of lead has been stripped from the roof of an extension at Old Buckenham's village hall, near Attleborough. And although the building's management committee can claim on the insurance it will still be out of pocket, as there is a £250 excess charge.


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“I am just hoping the rain at the weekend hasn't done any damage,” said committee chairman Den Packham.

“We had the extension built a few years ago and they went round the car park side, which is out of site, and stripped lead from the apex to the guttering. We cannot afford to put in CCTV and at the back of the hall is fields, so there's no one to keep an eye on things.”

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The theft was discovered on Thursday, just two days after the theft of thousands of pounds-worth of lead roofing from Redenhall parish church, near Harleston. Although the value of the stolen lead was £2,000, it will cost nearer £10,000 to replace.

Police are appealing for information regarding the incident, overnight on Monday, November 26. A blue Land Rover Defender, stolen at Earsham and found burned out in Suffolk, has been linked to the crime.

Other recent incidents saw thefts from churches at Dereham, Flixton, Lowestoft and Mildenhall, and thefts of lead and copper from Fenland schools.

Scrap dealer Pete Gillings, who runs a licensed yard at Diss, said he complied with the law by taking the names, address and vehicle registration number of anyone who took in scrap metal for sale.

“Lead was worth nothing for years for the simple reason we didn't use it any more. But now that China needs it for everything, it's gone up this year from £200 a tonne to £1,200. Copper has nearly trebled and was up to £3,000 last month, but it's now tailed off to about £2,500 a tonne,” he explained.

A Norfolk police spokesman said: “This type of crime isn't just an issue for Norfolk - it is something that is affecting forces across East Anglia and beyond. We've seen cases of lead, copper and aluminium being stolen in recent months. It's a crime that won't be tolerated in Norfolk and is treated very seriously.”

More than 1,800 churches have been targeted nationally this year with claims totalling close on £6m. The Ecclesiastical Insurance Group is encouraging its customers to paint lead roofing with SmartWater - a security marking product which acts as a deterrent.

A mother-of-three on benefits, who was caught with about £500-worth of lead flashing stolen from a Norfolk school, was yesterday ordered to pay £100 compensation at Norwich Crown Court.

Sharon Prentice, 41, of Richmond Road, Norwich, admitted handling stolen goods on July 7 this year. Guy Ayers, mitigating, said Prentice was sorry. She was given a community order for 12 months under which she received a two-month curfew requiring her to stay indoors between 7am and 7pm daily.

Judge Simon Barham ordered her to pay Drayton First Community School £100 compensation.

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