Lead Theft at Lavenham Church

We are saddened to have to report that sometime between 10pm last night and 8am this morning a significant of lead was stolen from the north aisle roof of Lavenham Church, resulting in large amounts of rainwater e11924905_10206379250292745_1388948384095559162_nntering the building this afternoon.

John Howard, spokesman for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said it was too early to know the value of the lead stolen or the cost of repairs – but early indications are it c
ould be similar to Combs’ Church (which had their lead stolen on Sunday night) which is facing a £150,000 bill.

11954768_10206379251012763_212557111113281344_nMr Howard said “The stealing of lead from church roofs is not just an attack on the church building but also the community which it serves,” he said.

“The diocese is working with Suffolk Constabulary to make communities aware of how they can frustrate thieves.”

Earlier today Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, said: ““[A] dedicated rural crime team, led by Pc Mark Bryant is doing an excellent job. This team, supported by Suffolk’s two dedicated rural Special Constabulary units, has a very good understanding of the negative impact heritage crime has in rural areas.

“We all have a role to play to protect our county’s beautiful churches but so often they are in remote areas so I would urge everyone to keep their eyes peeled and report any suspicious activity.”

Anyone with any information about the Lavenham crime should call Babergh west police on 101, quoting crime number SU/15/2046.

Calls can also be made to Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.

If you would like to make a donation to help towards the eventual cost of repairs, you can send cheques payable to “Lavenham PCC” (marked ‘Roof Repairs’).

Alternatively you can give by Text Giving.   Just Text LVCH01 £5 (or any other amount) to 70070.

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2 thoughts on “Lead Theft at Lavenham Church

  1. Why £150,000? Are these uninsured losses because the PCC hasn’t done its job properly and taken the necessary steps demanded of it by Ecclesiastical Insurance?

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    • Dear John, the PCC takes its responsibility for the care and upkeep of our magnificent church very seriously, and as such had taken many precautions suggested by our insurers, one of which included ensuring that all lead on the roofs were treated with “Smart Water”.

      Our insurers acknowledged that we had taken these precautions, and rather than exclude metal theft completely, agreed to provide limited cover for metal theft (I believe to a limit of £7,500). As a PCC further options were explored into the costs involved to additionally install, monitor, and maintain, roof alarms but at the time the increase in the metal theft limit would only have increase from £7,500 to a maximum of £25,000. It was therefore felt not to be viable, particularly as the occurrences of metal thefts across the country had reduced considerably in the past few years, as lead prices had steadily fallen. This assessment, combined with the prominent position of the church and other security measures already in place, made Lavenham Church a “less attractive” target to potential thieves.

      We are currently awaiting accurate repair estimates, as the quoted figure of £150,000 are based on other churches which have suffered a similar amount of lead theft (albeit they are often isolated churches where the theft and subsequent damage isn’t immediately noticed). We hope that in our case the swift identification of the theft having taken place, the temporary coverings that are now in place, and the work done by volunteers on the day, may have mitigated the final repair bill.

      The PCC will shortly begin to consult with the relevant authorities and interested parties with a view to being able to make more permanent repairs, potentially with an approved “lead substitute”. If this is approved it will have the benefit of both reducing the repair costs as well as also being a deterrent to thieves as the products would have no scrap value.

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