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Preventing Lead Thefts in Wiltshire

by Michael Ford last modified 26 Mar, 2020 10:16 PM

Before the present coronavirus epidemic, the Diocese and Wiltshire Police launched a new initiative to try and prevent lead thefts.

Jenny Malekpour from the DAC Team explains:

"In 2019 there were 17 lead thefts from churches in Wiltshire. These thefts are not one-offs; our churches are being targeted by organised criminal groups.

"After such incidents, the total cost of re-covering a church roof can be substantial; and this is made more onerous by the additional costs of repairing interiors and contents damaged by subsequent water ingress. The impact of lead theft can also reach further, beyond the financial pressures, to the effects on the condition of the building and its ability to be used for worship.

"The impact on the congregation and wider community is similar to bereavement, with anger, despair and frustration being typical."

In response to the high number of thefts last year, the Archdeacon of Sarum Alan Jeans invited those affected by these thefts to a meeting with a Wiltshire Police Officer, and with Jenny Malekpour as DAC representative.

This co-operation between the Diocese of Salisbury and Wiltshire Police, has led to the instigation of ‘Operation Apollo’ Prevention of Theft of Roofing Materials, and burglaries from Wiltshire churches.

In partnership with their Rural Crime Prevention Team, we will be exploring and implementing measures to help prevent theft from our churches in Wiltshire.

Accordingly, on 11th March, the Archdeacon of Sarum, Alan Jeans, and Jenny Malekpour from the DAC team, met with Wiltshire Police to discuss ideas and initiatives for Operation Apollo.

Measures under consideration include:
- The distribution of resource packs to all diocesan churches in Wiltshire, containing information and guidance on measures that each church can take to help prevent theft;
- The distribution of forensic marking fluid to individual churches, which can enable stolen metal to be identified; and
- The provision of advice and support to churches seeking to install roof alarms, including with regard to funding sources.

Operation Apollo is at an early stage, and the Diocesan Support Team will be providing timely updates on progress and initiatives, as they are developed.

Further advice on the prevention of lead theft can be found here.

You can also contact the DAC office for advice about making changes to a church:

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