Metal thefts – advice for churches

Churches across the Diocese are being urged to do everything they can to protect their buildings from thieves as metal thefts continue to be a problem at our buildings.

Back in August 2011, £10,000 worth of lead was stolen from the roof of St Asaph Cathedral and since then there have been similar thefts at other churches.

Churches are encouraged to use Smartwater – an invisible liquid that leaves a traceable “DNA” on metal to help stolen goods make it back to their owners.

Alex Glanville is Head of Property Services for the Church in Wales and has compiled this list to help you avoid becoming a victim of metal theft in your parish.

Churches need to be encouraged to:

• Use SMARTWATER. This is an invisible solution which marks metal with a traceable ‘DNA’. SMARTWATER only works if it is also registered with the company. EIG issued kits in 2007 but we hear of churches who have applied it without registering it – this is as good as useless as without registration, stolen metal cannot be traced to the church it came from.

Using Smartwater is considered a deterrent to thieves and will increase the level of cover for insurance that churches have with EIG. From next year, to get any cover for metal theft it will be necessary to apply Smartwater.

• Be extra vigilant. Ask neighbours etc to keep a special look out and make regular visits to churches and halls.

• Make sure you are not making it easy for thieves by leaving things around to aid climbing such as bins or ladders. Take a good look around your buildings to think how thieves might access. Trim vegetation to make your building visible.

• Make sure any security measures you have are working such as security lights and alarms.

• Consider measures to secure your external metals such as roof alarms, guards, fencing etc – this will need discussion through the faculty process but start looking at it now.

Obviously, this threat applies to all types of property not just churches so think about these issues for all your buildings.