Thieves target lead on school roofs

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Thieves are stripping lead from school roofs to take advantage of rising metal prices.As youngsters head back to class this week, heads have been forced to patch up roofs following a succession of thefts.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Thieves are stripping lead from school roofs to take advantage of rising metal prices.

As youngsters head back to class this week, heads have been forced to patch up roofs following a succession of thefts.

Figures from Norfolk County Council show that since June, 27 schools have been targeted, often in broad daylight, leaving schools facing leaky roofs and an average insurance claim of £1,500. Most are in the Norwich area, to the west of the city.


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At one high school it is believed youngsters were spotted carrying lead in a wheelbarrow, while teachers watched from the school building.

Such is the scale of the problem that contractors are being instructed to use a lead alternative to patch up the roofs.

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Kate Gooding, Norfolk County Council spokesman, said the thefts were a growing problem and some schools

had suffered substantial losses.

“We may have had the occasional theft of lead in the past but nothing on this scale,” she said.

“Removing lead from the roof of a school has the potential to cause leaks which can cause major damage to the interior of the building. Thankfully, this has not yet happened.

“We would urge members of the public to be vigilant if they live near a school and report anything suspicious to the police.

“We are replacing the stolen roofing with non-lead roofing materials and will be looking to use such products in the future to reduce the risk of theft.”

Meanwhile police report a surge in metal thefts this year, with farmers particularly targeted.

A Norfolk police spokesman said incidents had increased from 41 at the start of

the year to 81 in May.

“Norfolk Constabulary has seen a rise of metal thefts in general - 49pc between January and May,” she said. “This appears to be a national problem due to the price

of metal increasing significantly.

“The main targets for such thefts are products made

from aluminium such as irrigation pipes and trailers and stainless steel products such as food bins and steel trolleys.

“Farms are at risk because much of the equipment cannot be secured and is often at isolated locations making it easy for planned and opportunist theft.

“From a crime prevention aspect people should be vigilant and, if possible, mark their property for identification. They should immediately report anything suspicious to the police especially cold callers looking around for scrap. They should obtain as much detail as possible including vehicle index numbers.”

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