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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 September 2007, 10:12 GMT 11:12 UK
Church aims to trace stain of sin
Generic picture of lead on a church roof
A DNA-impregnated grease has been applied to the church lead
A church in South Yorkshire which has been plagued by thieves is using the latest DNA technology to stop criminals stripping lead from the building.

Officials at All Saints' Church in Darfield, near Barnsley, have smeared the roof with a grease which leaves a DNA stain on anyone who touches it.

The staining, invisible to the naked eye, is claimed to be traceable for months after any initial contact.

Rector Neil Redeyoff said the church had been badly damaged by rainwater.

Mr Redeyoff said: "I was spending more time attending to practical work [supervising roof repairs] than to my pastoral work."

He said a police officer knew about the DNA grease and suggested using it.

I could hear the water cascading down through the roof
Rector Neil Redeyoff

The rector said his insurers would only pay out so much when the lead was repeatedly being stripped from the roof - and All Saints' church was close to the maximum payout.

The latest theft happened at the worst possible time for the church - during the days in June when torrential rain caused widespread flooding across the country and rainwater poured through the roof.

He added: "It was like turning the fire hoses on the roof.

"I could hear the water cascading down through the roof.

"The irony is the church has a painted clouded ceiling and water was coming through the plaster.

"It went on the pipe organ, oak font and all over the carpets."

Mr Redeyoff said repair calculations were still being carried out, but he feared the final bill would be somewhere close to 250,000.

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