THREE men accused of conspiring to steal from more than 20 churches across Lincolnshire and stealing lead from another church in Sutterton are being sent to crown court.
Tadas Andruska (35), Andrius Cereska (30) and Andrius Kvedavas (29) appeared at Grantham Magistrates’ Court yesterday after police executed synchronised warrants at four addresses in Lincoln on Tuesday.
The 22 churches allegedly targeted by the men between January 1 and September 24, 2011, include St Leodegar’s at Wyberton, St Peter and St Paul’s at Algarkirk, St Mary’s at Frampton, St Nicholas’s at Lutton, St Peter and St Paul’s at Gosberton, St Margaret’s at Quadring and St James’s Church at Aslackby.
Separate charges of stealing lead from St Mary’s Church in Sutterton between April 15-18, 2011, and stealing lead from a church at Little Dalton in Leicestershire between August 23-26, 2011, were also put to the men.
Police said the arrests were made as a culmination of a six-month intelligence-led operation into metal thefts.
Andruska, of Roman Pavement, Lincoln, Cereska, of Laceby Street, Lincoln, and Kvedavas, of Maple Street, Lincoln, were all remanded in custody to appear at Lincoln Crown Court on Wednesday.
A fourth man also appeared before magistrates in Grantham charged with handling goods stolen from churches.
Vitalijus Vilkys (27), of Nelson Street, Lincoln, was granted conditional bail and must now also appear at Lincoln Crown Court on Wednesday.
A fifth person, who police say is a 39-year-old local man, was also arrested and questioned on Tuesday, He was released on police bail pending further inquiries until April 25.