NEW security bollards have been put up outside two churches after thieves stole seven tonnes of lead from their roofs.
The £250 posts have been added outside Gosberton and Quadring parish churches in a bid to prevent would-be thieves driving up and loading their vehicles with the stolen scrap metal.
The latest thefts, which happened within a few weeks of each other, have left the parish facing the arduous task of replacing the lead and repairing the damage caused.
Gosberton Church was the first to be targeted on June 19 when thieves stripped about two and a half tons of lead from the porch roof, leaving a mess of smashed coping stones littering the path.
On July 5, Quadring St Margaret’s Church had four and a half tonnes of lead ripped from parts of the nave roof, leaving the roof insecure and allowing torrential rain to pour into the listed building, damaging pews and a carpet. A window was also smashed at ground level.
Debbie Reynolds, parish assistant, said: “We now have a tarpaulin covering the roof but the rain caused quite a lot of damage inside. It was a hell of a mess in there.
“As a result we have had to hold services at the church hall while repairs are carried out and we don’t know when we wil be able to reopen it.
“We have also installed three security bollards at Gosberton and one at Quadring, at a cost of £250 each, to stop people driving right up to the church. But if someone is determined to steal lead, they will still find a way to get it to their vehicle.
“The whole thing has caused us quite a lot of trouble. Like anyone else, we still have to pay the excess on our insurance so this will cost us money and not only that but it will be a lot of hassle.
“It’s a listed building so we have to have specialists to do the repairs, as well as get permission for any changes we make. We would like to replace the lead with an alternative, but we would need permission to do that.”
Mrs Reynolds said the lead was security marked.
Lincolnshire Police are investigating the thefts, but said the problem is currently endemic due to the high value of scrap metal.
A spokesman said officers are working with churches and conservation groups to offer advice on things they can do to protect hsitoric buildings, as well as visiting scrap merchants to remind them of the consequences of buying lead which may have been stolen.
She said: “If these theives were unable to sell it on, there would be no point in stealing it, so we are targeting scrap merchants to remind them of their legal obligations, but unfortunately there will always be the unscrupulous few.
“I believe we have a good relationship with those in this county but many of the thieves travel some distance to commit their crimes, so they are perhaps selling it in other counties.”