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Thief in the night

Anglican churches in Britain have been on the receiving end of a theft wave in recent years, and it has now taken an alarming new turn.

The main target for theives has been lead and copper from church roofs. Last year, churches made 2600 claims for metal theft, bringing the total value of their losses over four years is £25m. Ecclesiastical Insurance, who insure 97 per cent of English parish churches put a £5000 limit on claims.

Police say that such thefts account for ten per cent of all crime in some areas of the country, thanks to the low risk and the high value of the scrap metal.

In May, lead was stripped from a Lancashire church while the renowned security firm G4S was guarding a fleet of cars in the car park.

The congregation of St John the Baptist in Broadstone, Dorset mounted their own night watch in April, after a £100,000 refurbishment was followed by two nights of raids in which they lost £10,000 worth of lead.

Ecclesiastical has spent half a million pounds on church roof alarms.   
What's more alarming is that  recently churches have been suffering more irreplaceable thefts.

A panel of the medieval reredos in an Oxfordshire church was stolen in March. Carvings and a plaque from the 13th and 14th centuries were stolen in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. It is thought that they have been stolen for international collectors of antiquities.