The Church of England has been experiencing a rash of property crimes against some of its most expensive assets – its oldest buildings. Thieves have been nicking off with the lead from the roofs of parish churches, abbeys and cathedrals across the country.
So, to limit the ability the thieves have to get money for the lead their stealing from scrap dealers, the roofs are being painted with a special paint containing special micro particles. Each roof gets a paint with a unique chemical signature.
Tracking the lead becomes a simple matter and should stop the lucrative trade that thieves have been taking advantage of recently.
It’s not a trivial problem:
“Church insiders say the financial impact of such thefts has been severe. Individual insurance claims often exceed £100,000, despite the value of the lead stolen being a fraction of that, because of the further damage done by thieves as they rip off the metal.
The demand for scrap is driven by world prices. Those for lead and copper soared to record levels last year with scrap lead peaking at £1,300 a ton. Metal prices fell when the recession hit, but are now picking up again strongly.
Most churches are insured by Ecclesiastical Insurance, which is so concerned at the losses that it recently sent every church a SmartWater kit and warned vicars and bishops it would pay out no more than £5,000 if they failed to use it on their roofs.
A spokesman for Ecclesiastical Insurance said metal theft had become the number one reason for claims.”
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