Churches step up security after spate of Redbridge lead thefts

Lead is proving a prime target for thieves with increasing numbers of lead-related thefts in Redbridge.

Drain covers, railways cables and lead from roofs are being stolen for scrap metal causing thousands of pounds of damage.

Eighty-five drain covers have been stolen across the borough in the past year and churches have also suffered.

A Redbridge Council spokesman said the drain cover thefts began in the Woodford Green/South Woodford area and spread “randomly” across the borough, with the cost of each grate anything between �180-�300.

Labour Cllr Filly Maravala said: “It’s high time these types of thefts were addressed. They place a tremendous strain on the council taxpayer and it is just not fair.

Fr Gareth Jones, from St Mary the Virgin Church, High Road, Ilford said: “In the last 12 months we have had our lead stolen twice, the last time �6,000 worth was stolen.

“Most people think it is a victimless crime but it has a huge impact on our worshippers as they invest a lot time and money into the church and it disturbs worship when rain water is pouring in.

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“Part of the church will have to be cordoned off for Remembrance Sunday mass because of water damage. We are currently looking for an alternative to lead which has less value.”

The church has spent a large amount of money installing CCTV and used anti climb paint as well as smart watering, so stolen lead can be traced back to the church.

Fr Gareth added: “People think we will be insured but all churches are only insured up to the value �5,000 and can claim only once a year.”

Rev Petros Nyatsanza from All Saints Church, Broomhill Road, Goodmayes said: “We have been targeted twice and around �2,000 worth of lead was stolen. There is very little we can do about it, CCTV hasn’t stopped them.”

The council has informed the police about the spate of thefts and has asked its own highways officers to stay vigilant.

They are asking residents who spot any suspicious activity or who have information to contact the police.