In the last few months the Deanery has been aware of 3 instances where lead has been stolen from churches in the area: at Newton Longville, Shenley Church End, and most recently at Cosgrove. It is easy to feel helpless in dealing with this situation, so is there anything at all you can do to safeguard your church lead? Yes, there is!
- Firstly organise a team to knock on all the neighbouring houses, to introduce yourself and explain the risk your church faces. If they are aware of the lead theft problem, they are more likely to notice and report any suspicious vans. (It also helps them recognise that the church is their church too!) Keep them informed of any major outside work that is currently being undertaken, so they don’t worry unduly or worse, ignore possible thieves.
- Ensure everyone has at least your telephone number (and preferably that of other team members), so that they can call you when they do see something suspicious. Most people would prefer to check with you first before phoning the police and giving their name.
- Advertise that you are on the lookout for lead thieves with posters at entrances and outdoor notice boards.
- Never, ever, leave ladders out in the open or in unlocked sheds. (Preferably, store them away from the church premises.) If you have no alternative for storage, choose good strong padlocks and make sure lead thieves can’t look in.
- Good security lighting can be a deterrent, as can cutting down bushes or shrubs that are covering PIRs (Passive Infra-red Sensors) or sensors which turn on any outdoor security lighting. Increasing visibility and eliminating bushes and shrubs which allow thieves to remain undetected can help them choose a different location!
- Hopefully by now you will already have invested in some specially formulated traceable liquid such as SmartWater to paint on all access points to lead flashing, lead roofing and lead windows, to permanently mark and protect your property, and to help catch the thieves if the worst happens. Other products such as a DNA Grease also link criminals to their crime scene. These products have a highly successful record of achieving reductions in burglaries and theft of up to 85%.
- Don’t forget to put up warning signs too! Anything to suggest that your church is protected is not just a good thing, but will help ensure your insurers cover the loss without undue deductions.
- Finally, if you see anything suspicious, or even catch the rascals red-handed, don’t be afraid to call 999 – and then inform the Archdeacon and the Area Dean!