Metal theft from churches reaches six-year low

The number of churches experiencing metal theft has fallen to its lowest in six years.

Church insurer Ecclesiastical said theft of lead and other metal accounted for over 930 insurance claims from Anglican church in 2012.

This was a significant drop from 2011, when over 2,600 churches made similar claims - the worst year on record.

The improvement follows efforts by the insurer, the Government, and affected industries to stop metal theft.

Last February, Ecclesiastical launched the national campaign, Hands Off Our Church Roofs, which saw churches across England, Scotland and Wales fitted with sophisticated alarm systems.

The campaign prioritised the worst hit churches and alarms were installed for free.

Despite the fall in claims, Ecclesiastical is worried that metal theft levels among churches are still far higher today than 20 years ago.

The insurer said Salisbury, Chelmsford, Winchester, Chichester and Birmingham dioceses were worst affected by metal theft.

Ecclesiastical director of church insurance, John Coates said it would take a concerted effort "for many years to come" from businesses, politicians and law enforcement agencies to stamp out the problem.

He said: "These figures are hugely encouraging but it would be premature to predict the end of the epidemic of metal theft.

"Nine hundred and thirty claims is still 930 too many."

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