Thursday, 26 November 2015

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Vicar's warning after thieves strike at three Cumbrian churches

A VICAR has warned churches to examine their buildings after copper thieves struck at three separate sites.

Lightning conductor theft photo
Marilyn Graham, church warden at St Paul’s Church in Frizington, at the site of the lightning conductor that was cut

Copper lightning conductor strips have been stolen from St Leonard’s and St John’s churches, both in Cleator Moor, and St Paul’s Church in Frizington.

The Rev Peter Turnbull said: “Certainly three churches have been targeted, and we are not sure about a fourth,” he explained.

“These copper conductors tend to be around the sides of buildings, and so are not often seen unless you are looking for them.

“I would encourage other churches to check their lightning conductors – you may not notice they are missing otherwise.”

The conductors were stolen from the west Cumbria churches at some point during the past three weeks.

Rev Turnbull said: “The thieves have stolen it from about head height to the ground – so destroying the whole purpose of the lightning conductor.

“This is not a bunch of kids vandalising something. They would have had to use a ladder and you would need some kind of van to take it away.”

The churches are now faced with raising the money to replace the conductors themselves, or of claiming on their insurance and subsequently seeing the premiums rise.

The strips are described as being about one inch wide, and would need to be rolled up to transport. It is estimated about 19m was stolen.

“The Government did do something about tightening up payments with cash for scrap metal,” said Rev Turnbull.

“The question is, where are the thieves taking this stuff to sell it?”

PC Chris Blain, who is investigating the thefts, said: “It has been estimated that these thefts have caused an estimated £1,000 worth of damage to all three churches, causing unnecessary financial hardship and the obvious danger should the church roof by struck by lightning.

“We are appealing for anyone who seen any suspicious activity in the area in the last few weeks. “

Anyone with information about the thefts is urged to contact police by calling 101.


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