Wrentham Church invests in security system to beat thieves

The motion detection sensors on the roof of St Nicholas Church at Wrentham, near Southwold, are automatically triggered by human movement. The arrival of such a high-tech alarm system is an innovative attempt to protect an historic sites – and could soon be seen across the county.

St Nicholas is not the first church in Suffolk to receive the sensors but, last week, church wardens and police officers gathered to hear from the company that designed the system how effective it can be against lead thieves.

On Remembrance Sunday last year, the Reverend Leonard Payne arrived at St Nicholas to discover thieves had stripped the roof of metal. Six tonnes of lead had

disappeared overnight.

'This wasn't just someone coming along to make some spare change, the lead was worth thousands of pounds, and this is not a victimless crime - it is an attack on our culture and on those who care for and fundraise for the church,' said the Rev Payne.

'The police are starting to realise that this is a serious national problem.'

'If it was a �20,000 bank robbery there would be scenes of crime officers all over it, but lead has always been treated as scrap metal.'

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Lead thefts have been an increasing problem for churches, schools and other public and private buildings in recent years.

Figures from Ecclesiastical Insurance, which insures 97pc of Church of England buildings, show metal thefts nationwide have cost more than �20 million over the last five years for churches alone.

Most will use anti-climb paint or SmartWater as a deterrent. E-Bound AVX ltd, the firm that designed and installs the motion sensor system, hopes more will consider the new technology as a long term solution instead.

PC Simon Green, of Southwold and Halesworth Safer Neighbourhood Team, hopes the system becomes another tool to help beat lead thieves.

'Our area has recently suffered a number of church lead thefts and any measures that can be taken to deter and catch offenders have to be worthwhile,' he said.

'I was interested to see how the security works and organised the demonstration so other officers from across Suffolk could view and hear about how effective this can be.'

For more information on the security system churches can contact their individual insurance companies or E-Bound direct on 08444 936075.

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