By Anna Morrell, Archbishop’s Media Officer, Church in Wales
Churches across the Diocese are being urged to do everything they can to protect their buildings from thieves after £10,000 worth of lead was stolen from the roof of St Asaph Cathedral.
It happened during the night on Thursday 11 August and there have been similar thefts in Mold and Bistre in the last ten days.
Churches are encouraged to use Smartwater – an invisible liquid that leaves a traceable “DNA” on metal to help stolen goods make it back to their owners.
Michael Balkwill is Residentiary Canon at St Asaph Cathedral and said: “The Cathedral community in St Asaph is shocked to have been targeted by lead thieves yet again, along with other churches in north Wales.
“This is another sad example of how some people are prepared to put personal gain, above and beyond respect for others and their property, and in this case, a House of God.
“This incident, however, helps us to focus our prayers even more on the victims of crime, including those whose homes, possessions and livelihoods have been destroyed by the selfish and mindless actions of others in recent days.”
North Wales Police are urging anyone with information about the lead thefts to get in touch with them by calling 101 or leaving information anonymously with Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Alex Glanville is Head of Property Services for the Church in Wales and has compiled this list to help you avoid becoming a victim of metal theft in your parish.
Parishes need to be encouraged to:
- Use SMARTWATER. This is an invisible solution which marks metal with a traceable ‘DNA’. SMARTWATER only works if it is also registered with the company. EIG issued kits in 2007 but we hear of parishes who have applied it without registering it – this is as good as useless as without registration, stolen metal cannot be traced to the church it came from.
Using Smartwater is considered a deterrent to thieves and will increase the level of cover for insurance that Parishes have with EIG. From next year, to get any cover for metal theft it will be necessary to apply Smartwater. Click here to purchase kits or call 0845 458 4584.
- Be extra vigilant. Ask neighbours etc to keep a special look out and make regular visits to churches and halls.
- Make sure you are not making it easy for thieves by leaving things around to aid climbing such as bins or ladders. Take a good look around your buildings to think how thieves might access. Trim vegetation to make your building visible.
- Make sure any security measures you have are working such as security lights and alarms.
- Consider measures to secure your external metals such as roof alarms, guards, fencing etc – this will need discussion through the faculty process but start looking at it now.
- Read guidance available from EIG here. It is also available in Welsh.
Obviously, this threat applies to all types of property not just churches so think about these issues for all your buildings.