The theft of metal from churches in the East of England has resulted in a huge increase in insurance claims.
Smart Water will be painted on church roofs
Anglican churches alone have made 270 claims this year totalling £900,000.
The thefts are usually of lead from roofs, flashing and copper piping, and lightning conductors. School roofs and power lines have also been targeted.
Anglican churches are now introducing SmartWater which is painted on items and glows under ultra-violet lamps identifying the owner.
The chemical will be painted on roofs and in some cases spraying systems will be installed inside the churches to douse thieves.
The regional diocesan insurance claims for 2007, up to the beginning of November, are:
- Ely, Cambridgeshire, 48 claims totalling £240,000;
- St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, Suffolk, 18 claims totalling £90,000;
- Chelmsford, Essex, 66 claims totalling £130,000;
- Norwich, Norfolk, 21 claims totalling £40,000;
- Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, 79 claims totalling £315,000;
- St Albans, Hertfordshire, 36 claims totalling £80k.
Source: Ecclesiastical Insurance.
Nationally, Ecclesiastical Insurance received more than 1,800 claims from Anglican churches this year at a cost of nearly £5.8m for the theft mainly of lead from roofs.
Sheffield, Nottingham and Manchester were the worst-hit areas of the country, suffering more than 400 claims between them in 2007.
SmartWater is being sent to every Anglican church covered by Ecclesiastical Insurance, totalling more than 16,500 churches.