A Christian insurer has warned of a rise in metal thefts at churches as the UK emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ecclesiastical said there had been a drop in claims from churches relating to metal theft during the pandemic when lockdowns kept people at home.
Now with restrictions lifted, Ecclesiastical is urging churches to be on their guard after seeing a number of churches affected by theft in the first quarter of 2022.
Jo Whyman, risk management director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: "The last two years has seen a drop in claims, but we believe that the UK-wide lockdowns have played a part in this."
Churches are targeted by criminal gangs for their metal, including lead and copper.
The gangs ruthlessly strip metal components from historic church buildings, leaving them in need of thousands of pounds worth of repairs.
Ecclesiastical fears a spike in criminal activity driven by the end of restrictions and a challenging economic climate coupled with a rise in metal prices and high demand for copper and lead.
"There is a risk that the continuing economic downturn in the UK and high value of scrap metal could see an increase in theft of metal from historical buildings such as churches, which is why it is vital that they take steps to protect their premises from unscrupulous offenders," Whyman said.
Ecclesiastical is calling on churches to review their security arrangements and consider installing measures like anti-climb paint, security lights and roof alarms to deter criminal gangs.
Whyman continued, "Theft of metal can have a devastating impact on churches and heritage buildings. Aside from the cost of replacing the metal, further damage can happen as a result of exposure to the elements which can cost thousands of pounds.
"It is vital that churches across the country take steps to protect themselves from thieves and follow our guidance which is available through our website."
Tips on how to help reduce the risk of metal theft can be found at www.ecclesiastical.com/risk-management/church-metal-theft.