The metal thieves are back – how to protect your church

We appear to be in the middle of a spate of attacks by lead thieves, in Suffolk and  Cambridgeshire.  Several attacks have been thwarted in the past few days by roof alarms, but two churches in Cambridgeshire have suffered  a catastrophic loss, without an alarm and therefore without full insurance cover for the value of the lead stolen.

Police have advised PCCs to collect any cigarette butts and beer cans that may appear unexpectedly in their churchyards – these could indicate that your church has had a scoping visit, and can provide useful DNA evidence.  Police also advocate the application of anti-climbing paint to drainpipes (above six feet from the ground) to prevent them being climbed – this really has worked in some places since the thieves don’t usually carry ladders on their vans.

If you see anything suspicious that makes you suspect your church is being targeted, please contact the Cambridgeshire Rural Crime Action Team at or if you are in Norfolk, you have your very own rapid response team in the shape of DC Andy Brown  They depend on churches to be their eyes and ears all across both counties.

The fitting of an insurance-approved roof alarm remains the only way to provide effective protection AND full insurance cover for the metal on your church roof.  CCTV and security lighting also help to deter thieves, provided they cannot easily be disabled. 

There are other very simple ways to make life difficult for lead thieves: bar vehicular access to the churchyard, lock away wheelie bins, wheel barrows and ladders, assess risk of an approach from “behind” (eg across a field or unmade track), ask neighbours to be vigilant and ask whether they might leave a lamp on a timer in their front rooms overnight.  Anything to deter; anything to put doubt in the mind of the thieves.

Please get in touch if you would like to learn more

Geoffrey Hunter
Church Buildings Consultant
Diocese of Ely
Bishop Woodford House
Barton Road
Ely CB7 4DX

01353 652 737
07961 034 780