December 21, 2022 8.30 am This story is over 10 months old

Lead thefts force churches to find cheaper replacements

One theft cost up to £100,000

The ruinous cost of lead thefts have left several Lincolnshire churches seeking cheaper replacements.

At least six churches in one county parish have opted for stainless steel roofs after their original lead tiles were stolen.

The Church of St Peter Ad Vincula in Threekingham, near Sleaford, had most of the lead stripped off its roof over two consecutive nights in December 2019.

Police were able to apprehend the culprits after being alerted by residents, but the church wasn’t insured for theft.

The cost of repairs at the time were estimated at £60,000 to £100,000.

Some sheets that weren’t stolen were also damaged during the theft.

Five other church in the area –  Pickworth, Newton, Aswarby, Swarby and Walcot – were also victims around the same time, the church’s planning application says.

The temporary cover on Threekingham church following the theft | Photo: Church of St Peter Ad Vincula

The place of worship dates back to the 12th century, and the lead had been in place since the 1800s.

The church has now been granted approval to replace the lead with terns-coated stainless steel, which has a similar appearance.

“Although the thieves were caught, several gangs have operated in Lincolnshire in the past with similar patterns of theft of roof metals and it is likely that new waves of thefts will occur,” the application says.

“Terne coated stainless steel can have similar appearance to lead but without the ease of thefts nor the scrap value and so is generally deemed the best alternative.”

It adds: “None of the churches in the parish are able to afford the premiums for buildings insurance cover, and Threekingham was the sixth church in the parish to suffer a major theft.”

The other churches have also opted for similar replacements, paid for by grants and local fundraising.

The replacement would have a lifespan of at least 100 years, and would protect the church’s historic interior.

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