Page last updated at 15:53 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 16:53 UK

Lead stripped from 12 church roofs in Derbyshire

All Saint's Church in Brailsford
All Saints in Brailford is one of the churches hit by lead thieves

Thieves have stripped lead from 12 churches in an area of Derbyshire in the past few weeks.

The churches in the Derbyshire Dales will have to pay most of the replacement costs as insurance claims for lead theft are limited to £5,000.

Christopher Cunliffe, archdeacon for Derby Diocese, said people needed to keep an eye out for bogus workmen.

"People can do a lot in terms of being vigilant but many of our churches are very isolated," he said.

Sensors smashed

"We encourage churches to use a product called Smartwater that can be put on roofs to trace the lead if it is taken away and discovered elsewhere.

"Some churches also use CCTV and other alarm systems."

The Reverend Paul Taylor, who looks after five churches in the area, including All Saints Church in Brailsford which was also targeted several years ago, said the churches had been stripped again in the past few weeks.

"We have raised money to install an alarm but the thieves went on the roof and smashed all the sensors."

Insurance companies have put a £5,000 cap on claims, but the damage caused by a theft two years ago was put at £25,000.

Mr Taylor said lead thefts could damage church roofs, causing rain to ruin the interior - which is another cost, along with damaged stonework.

Police are visiting scrap yards to encourage owners to report anyone they suspect of trying to sell stolen metal.

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