Thieves strike 900-year-old St Albans church twice for metal

PUBLISHED: 09:33 20 August 2015 | UPDATED: 09:33 20 August 2015

St Leonards Church

St Leonards Church

Archant

A St Albans vicar wants locals to be vigilant after metal at a centuries-old village church was targeted twice by thieves in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, St Leonard’s Church in Sandridge had part of its copper lightning conductor stolen – then thieves returned this week to steal lead from its roof.

Herts Police has appealed for information following the thefts.

The first incident is believed to have taken place between 5pm on Thursday August 6 and 9.30am on Friday August 7 at the church, located on Church End.

The lightning conductor is around 3ft tall and is made of copper. It has also been property marked with Smartwater so can be traced, if someone is offered it for sale.

Then 20 sheets of lead were stolen overnight on Monday (17).

The 900-year-old church has reported both crimes to the police and to their insurers, and is considering measures it can take to reduce the risk of metal theft in the future.

Both crimes are believed to have been committed during the night.

Rev Em Coley said: “I am really cross. These are crimes against the whole community. As a church, we work closely with the local school, old people’s homes, and a wide range of other local groups.

“In addition to our regular services, weddings, baptisms and funerals, we run regular children’s activities and other community events.

“These crimes have been committed against anyone who values the place of the church in local life, but they will not distract us from our spiritual and community role in the parish.

“We ask local people to keep an eye open for any suspicious activity around the church, and to let the police know if they see anything unusual going on.”

Rev Coley said that, aside from the irreplaceable loss of heritage, the financial loss arising from thefts goes beyond the cost of just replacing the stolen metal.

Since the start of 2007 Ecclesiastical Insurance - who insure most churches - has received more than 14,000 claims for thefts of metals, at an estimated cost of more than £33 million, the majority of which are from church properties.

• Anyone with information on these metal thefts is asked to contact PCSO Chris Stokes on 101. Alternatively, phone independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via its anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

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