A METAL thief who stripped £10,000 worth of lead from a 12th century Lincolnshire church during Easter was caught because of his taste for Polish lager.
Saulius Ciuzas (39) made off with the lead from St Peter & St Paul Church in Algarkirk but left an almost completely full can of Lech Lager on the top of the church roof.
Lincoln Crown Court heard the can of Lech was discovered by church warden Peter Wilson when he carried out a check on the morning of Easter Sunday.
Phil Howes, prosecuting, said: “Thirteen strips of lead had been taken from the roof, but the most significant find was on the roof itself.
“Next to where the lead had been removed was a Lech beer can. It was upright and still had liquid in it.
“The can was linked to Ciuzas because his DNA was found on it.”
Ciuzas, a Lithuanian migrant who lived 40 miles away in Lincoln, was tracked down and arrested but denied any involvement.
Mr Howes said: “Ciuzas said he drank Lech beer every day but did not know why the beer can with his DNA was found on the roof of the church.”
Ciuzas, of Craven Mews, Lincoln, was jailed for 12 months after a jury found him guilty of the lead theft between 22 and 24 April this year.
Rev Gary Morgan, of St Peter and St Paul church, said: “We are pleased justice has been done and hope he learns from his experience.
“On this occasion over £10,000 of lead was stripped from the roof, but there had been two previous lead thefts which is very dispiriting.
“Hopefully the fact that somebody has been caught will dissuade others, but it makes it impossible to leave our churches open, if they were they would be stripped bare.”
Lincolnshire has been one of the rural counties hit hardest by the recent surge in metal thefts, forcing police to launch a special operation targeting the thieves.
The new Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Rev Christopher Lowson, has spoken out about the high number of lead theft from churches, and English Heritage announced last week that they had been forced to step up security after 64 square feet of lead was stolen from the roof of the Bishop’s Medieval Palace in Lincoln.
Chief Inspector Mark Housely said: “Lincolnshire Police has been running Operation Brompton to tackle lead and copper thefts for a couple of months now and we hope this conviction demonstrates the progress we are making in terms of bringing these offenders to justice.
“We are calling on our communities to continue their vigilance, particularly in the villages and to report any suspicious activity to us as soon as possible.”