THREE Lithuanian men face jail sentences after they admitted stealing lead from churches across Lincolnshire.
Tadas Andruska (35), Andrius Cereska (30) and Andrius Kvedavas (30) were remanded into custody after they admitted a charge of conspiring to steal lead belonging to the Church of England.
The trio entered guilty pleas through a Lithuanian interpreters during a hearing at Lincoln Crown Court.
All three men were arrested earlier this year after police executed synchronised search warrants at four addresses in Lincoln.
Police made the arrests after a six-month intelligence-led operation into metal thefts from 22 churches across Lincolnshire between January 1 and September 24, last year.
In Lincolnshire the 22 churches 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.
Other rural churches in villages surrounding Grantham, including Great Gonerby, Fulbeck, Hougham and Newton also suffered lead thefts.
The isolated Grade Two listed St James the Greater church at Little Dalby, near Melton Mowbray, in Leicestershire, was also targeted by lead thieves between August 23 and 26, 2011.
The new Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Rev Christopher Lowson, has spoken out about the high number of lead thefts from churches in Lincolnshire.
According to Ecclesiastical, which is the main Church of England insurer, Lincolnshire was second only to Essex for metal thefts during 2011.
Andruska, of Roman Pavement, Lincoln, Cereska, of Laceby Street, Lincoln, and Kvedavas, of Maple Street, Lincoln, were all remanded into custody by Judge Michael Heath.
They will be sentenced at Lincoln Crown Court later this year.
Two other men from Lincoln denied the charge of conspiracy and will go on trial at Lincoln Crown Court in August.
A sixth man from Lincoln denied a charge of handling stolen lead belonging to the Church of England and will also go on trial later this summer.