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Church News

National Churches Trust says cost of living crisis is playing a part in rise of church thefts

by Alex Collett

There has been a warning about the rise in heritage church crimes across the country.

Churches and other historic sites around the UK are increasingly being targeted by thieves for raw materials.

Assistant chief constable Rachel Nolan, with responsibility for Local Policing at Essex Police, told the Daily Telegraph, 16 churches were raided by thieves in July alone this year.

Eddie Tulasiewicz, head of communications at the National Churches Trust, told Premier Christian News there has been an increase in metal theft across the UK.

"Last year, there were about 19,000 metal thefts recorded, that's up by about 1,500 from the year before. Not all of those are metal thefts from churches.

"It is things like electric cables, catalytic converters… so lots of metal out there that people can steal.

"Churches are affected by it as well, there has been an uptick in the number of thefts from churches.

"Broadly speaking, there are two sorts of thefts from churches, one is opportunistic theft and the other of well planned by gangs.

"More of it is happening, partly because economic problems.  Always when there's a bit of a recession or economic downturn or cost of living crisis, crime goes up, and also the cost of metal has gone up so people can get more money for it."

Tulasiewicz added that it costs churches huge amounts of money to repair or replace items in the church.

 "Insurance policies sometimes don't pay out to cover everything,” he said. “Then a church is left with a big hole in its financial pockets.

"The big job is stealing lead from roofs…you're talking about tens of thousands of pounds to replace that.

"That's a huge amount of money for a church to find."

Public vigilance is thought to be crucial to stamping out the more opportunistic offending, such as the theft of historic paving stones and lead roofs from churches.

Tulasiewicz stressed CCTV monitoring of churches will only do so much.

"The key thing is be a good neighbour, just keep a watch out what's going on at a church and call the police,” he suggested.

"Also make sure that your local council knows about your church, and that it's got valuables, their valuable roof or something like that."

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