Recent increase in roof metal theft

    Diocese of Bristol
    22 January 2019

    Over the past few weeks the Secretary to the DAC has received reports of metal theft, which has affected a number of churches in the Diocese of Bristol. This is not just a local problem. We are aware that our neighbouring dioceses have seen the problem escalating too.

    We ask that you report all identified metal theft attempts to the Police, your Archdeacon, and the DAC Secretary, including the failed ones. When contacting the police, it is important to emphasise the loss or damage to heritage caused by the crime in addition to the value of the stolen metal. Sentences for heritage crime offences are longer than for ordinary theft or loss of property..

    We ask churchwardens and clergy to be extra vigilant at this time. Please bring the matter to the attention of your local town and parish councils, get in touch with the church’s neighbours; especially those whose houses overlook the church, and those who are likely to pass it on a regular basis, and make sure they know who to contact if they identify any suspicious activity in or around the church..

    Please ensure that access to church roofs is restricted. Make sure that ladders are stored out of sight and locked away, if possible. Double check that access to roofs from the inside of your church is disabled to unauthorised persons. Please carry out a visual inspection of your metal roofs regularly to prevent any rainwater damage. Sometimes thefts go unnoticed for days or weeks. Bear in mind that thieves do not only target large metal roof sheets found on nave roofs, but also lead flashings, lead gutters and smaller roofs, such as turret roofs.

    If your church has a metal roof, please familiarise yourself with the recently updated guidance on metal theft from historic buildings by Historic England. In addition, Historic England’s has produced notes on Tackling Heritage Crime.

    If you have any specific concerns about the security of your metal roofs, please contact your Church Insurer. Please note that if your insurance cover is with Ecclesiastical they will only offer you unlimited cover for theft of metal claims if you have a roof alarm and SmartWater applied. Installing a roof alarm is a List B matter and can be authorised by your Archdeacon. If you are unsure about the details of your policy and your church has a metal roof, please contact your insurer to stay up to date with their current requirements.

    Guidance from Ecclesiastical, including a list of approved roof alarm suppliers can be found here.

    Information on what the National Church is doing to prevent metal theft can be accessed here.