Published: June 8, 2010
Exclusive: £10,000 of lead stolen from Burnham-On-Sea church roof

Mean thieves have stolen over £10,000 of lead strips from the roof of Burnham-On-Sea's St Andrew's Church during recent days.

Police are investigating the major theft of the valuable metal from the northern roof of the church in Victoria Street.

The photo above, taken from the church's tower, shows where the thieves have scrambled onto the roof and peeled away the metal strips.

Reverend Graham Witts, vicar of St Andrew's, told that between four and five tonnes of the valuable material has been removed.

"It is a considerable amount. Given that scrap metal traders will buy it around £1,800 a tonne on the open market, this is a valuable haul," he said.

He added that the theft had only been discovered when water started to seap through the church's roof at the northern end of the church.

"We're not sure when the lead was taken - it must have been during the recent good weather, because as soon as the rain started, we found water coming into the church in several places."

"Our new paintwork, which has only recently been completed as part of our renovations, has been ruined in several places where water has run down the walls."

Rev'd Witts added that police have been informed about the theft, which is the second such incident at the church in the last two years.

He said the church's insurers will not cover the whole of the loss, which leaves the church with a big financial loss.

"Due to the high number of lead thefts from churches across the country, our insurer will only pay the first £5,000 of the loss - which means that we face a bill of several thousand pounds to get it repaired."

To try and combat the problem, he said the church will shortly be submitting a planning application to have the lead removed and replaced with a cheaper, stainless steel material instead.

"It is dark grey in colour and looks very similar to lead, but has no value to thieves," Rev'd Witts told

"It is very sad that we have had another of these thefts - it seems that churches are seen as soft targets by thieves during difficult financial times."

Police have appealed to any nearby residents who saw people acting suspiciously in the churchyard in recent weeks to contact them on 0845 456 7000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


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