Thieves strip lead from church roof

Lead stolen: St Mary's Church at Cowbit was targeted by lead thieves earlier this week. Photo: SG121011-113TW
Lead stolen: St Mary's Church at Cowbit was targeted by lead thieves earlier this week. Photo: SG121011-113TW

THIEVES have stripped 250sq ft of lead from the south porch of St Mary’s Church at Cowbit.

Church officials are now trying to step up security after the incident on Monday night and may install floodlighting, because they fear the Grade 1 listed building could be targeted again.

It is believed that in the past traffic on the A1073 deterred thieves who feared being spotted by passing drivers.

But now very few vehicles go by the Barrier Bank church because of the opening of the new road.

The vicar of Cowbit, the Rev Charles Brown, revealed there was an attempted lead theft at the 14th Century church at the beginning of September.

He said: “They were obviously surprised because they left in a hurry and no lead was taken – they had been trying to prise it off.

“This is the first time lead has been taken.

“They must have had a vehicle and unfortunately it’s fairly easy to access because it is such a low roof.

“A couple of years ago we trimmed the trees in front so that particular area could be more easily seen from the road because we knew it was a vulnerable bit.”

The church so far hasn’t had an estimate for repairs and doesn’t know the value of the stolen lead.

Mr Brown and church officials met yesterday to talk about the way ahead.

Floodlighting is an option but Mr Brown says it could prove too expensive to install and meet running costs.

He said: “We haven’t put in floodlighting before simply because we are a very small congregation and just keeping the church going is a burden, really.”

This month the Diocese of Lincoln has organised two training sessions for churchwardens to meet police and discuss ways of tightening security in and around church buildings.

l Police have dealt with more than 160 incidents of metal thefts in the six months to September.

These ranged from theft of lead flashing from homes in Holbeach and Long Sutton to a massive 1,800m of overhead power lines that cut the electricity supply to a village near Lincoln on October 5.