VILLAGERS are being asked to join in the fight against church lead thefts.
The Diocese of Lincoln, which covers south Lincolnshire, is encouraging residents who live near or regularly pass churches to be vigilant in the wake of lead thieves striking in the area.
Head of communications Will Harrison said: “It’s a massive problem.
“A lot of the churches are in small villages and there isn’t anyone around.
“Some of the thieves are so brazen that they go in posing as legitimate workmen.
“What we want to do is to call on anyone who passes near the church to remain vigilant.
“If anyone walks their dog near a church, please wander through the churchyard and see if there is anyone about.
“Check for damage because sometimes it won’t be noticed as soon as it has happened.”
On Tuesday, we revealed in our sister paper the Lincolnshire Free Press how churches were being left with bills for tens of thousands of pounds after lead was stolen from roofs.
In the last few weeks alone, attacks have been carried out at St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Algarkirk, St Mary’s in Frampton and St Mary’s in Sutterton.
All Saints’ Church at Fosdyke had also been broken into and its boiler drained of heating oil.
The theft from Algarkirk took place on Easter Sunday and was the third incident in a year.
In Frampton, parishioners had been on their guard as someone had been on the roof just two weeks earlier and had tried to cut off the lightning rod.
Insurance companies have been issuing some churches with smart water, a liquid which is used to mark property which is then read under ultraviolet light.
However, financial assistance to cover the cost of stolen lead and damage can be limited.
Mr Harrison said: “We are not our own insurance company so we can not cover churches for lead thefts.
“We can help them come up with ideas for fundraising campaigns but we cannot tap into our own pockets.
“We need to take all the precautions we can and keep an eye on the churches and do the best we can.
“The problem is not going to go away while lead is so valuable.”
Lincolnshire Police have encouraged residents living in rural parts of the county to consider joining or setting up a Churchwatch scheme.
Details can be found through the local Neighbourhood Policing Teams.