18 August 2007

Metal Illegaly Gaffed from British Churchs

by Daniel Blake from Christian Today:

Hundreds of churches across Britain are facing a crime wave as it has been revealed thieves are stealing millions of pounds worth of metal from its rooftops to ship to other parts of the world to take advantage of huge demand.
Thousands of properties, which include other historic buildings as well as the churches, have fallen victim of organised gangs who collect from vulnerable sources to sell on to crooked metal merchants.

It is thought that these dealers then ship the stolen material overseas to countries such as China, Dubai and India where there is a struggle to satisfy booming manufacturing and building markets.

In a report by the Sunday Telegraph, the phenomenon was revealed by Ecclesiastical Insurance, a leading Christian insurance company that covers a majority of Church of England buildings throughout Britain.

The insurance firm told how lead thefts had trebled, and copper thefts had multiplied by 10 times over the past 2 years.

Ecclesiastical told the Sunday Telegraph that over the past 16 months the company had received a massive 750 claims, totalling £1.2 million-worth.

Chris Pitt, Ecclesiastical PR Manager reported: “These people have to be organised because of the amounts they are getting away with. These buildings will never be the same again once they've been stripped in this way.”

It has also emerged that the ruthless gangs are ripping lightning conductors from spires using towropes and vehicles. Going beyond this extreme, fearless thieves have also been known to steel church bells.

One Wolverhampton vicar, whose church earlier this year was targeted by thieves three times in two weeks, had desperately called on church neighbours to help protect the much loved building.

In the first attack at Holy Trinity Church in Heath Town, Wolverhampton, thieves stole lightning conductors. A week later they stole ladders belonging to building contractors and on 30 April it was discovered that thieves had returned to steel lead flashing.

The thefts took place as the church underwent a £200,000 renovation project which has seen repairs to stonework on the tower and spire, replacement guttering and repairs to the church clock.

The Vicar of Heath Town, the Rev David Vestergaard, said: "It is very discouraging for a congregation who have given generously and sacrificially to enable us to carry out this renovation. We are blessed with a very attractive building but it is expensive to maintain and most of our congregation are not well off.”

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