England

Lichfield Diocese churches feel cost of lead thefts

Churches are being badly hit by lead thefts because penalties do not reflect the cost of the crime, a church spokesman has said.

Gavin Drake, of Lichfield Diocese, said punishments tended to reflect the price of the lead, not the cost of church repairs which are higher.

Church insurer Ecclesiastical said the diocese had more than 60 claims for lead thefts in 2010.

Mr Drake said the thefts were devastating for churches.

"The value of the metal runs in the tens of hundreds of pounds," he said.

"The damage caused, particularly if its a heritage building where stonework is damaged as well, runs in the tens of thousands of pounds and the penalties at the moment reflect the value of the metal."

The Lichfield Diocese covers Staffordshire, north Shropshire, and parts of the Black Country.

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