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Photo © Richard Croft (cc-by-sa/2.0)
UK News

Latest tech helping gangs attack almost half of rural churches in Britain

by Tola Mbakwe

According to Historic England, around 40 per cent of listed churches have been hit, the majority with metal thefts.

Police have said professional gangs use modern technology including drones, Google Earth and Sat NJav to find the churches and then plan an escape route.

In some cases entire roofs have been stolen from historic churches, which is extremely costly to replace.

Dioceses that have been impacted have realised the thefts have happened along arterial roads which allow criminals to target several churches in one area and get away quickly.

The Telegraph reported that the Church of England Diocese of Lincoln had eight churches in Lincolnshire victimized in ten years and some were targeted more than once this year.

Oxford Diocese said criminals have taken lead from the roofs of 20 churches since the middle of this year.

"We've been told that when vehicles used by thieves have been found, there have been lists of churches in them", said Liz Kitch, Oxford's senior church buildings officer.

Police have warned the pubic not to approach the criminals because "these are people who are involved in other crimes and they go armed with crowbars and hammers".

MP Graham Jones, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Combating Metal Theft said due to the high metal prices, gangs are sending metal stolen from churches to Eastern Europe and Africa.

The National Crime Agency has added metal theft in its 2019 Strategic Assessment.

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