THE Archdeacon of Boston, responsible for two Lincolnshire
churches from which more than two tonnes of lead was stolen, has
described her despair at the theft. The Archdeacon, the Ven.
Justine Allain Chapman, spoke of the "unbearable burden" of
maintaining and churches such as St Peter and St Paul, Algarkirk,
and St Mary's, Frampton, and protecting them from lead thieves.
Dr Allain Chapman, who oversees churches in South Holland,
Bourne, and the Deepings, said: "It is a constant struggle to
maintain these vast and beautiful medieval buildings. We have been
looking at, and testing, various security measures . . . as the
taking of roofing materials causes not only huge financial and
administrative burdens, but diverts funds and energy away from
serving the local communities."
The new technology with which police are trying to trace the
stolen lead is being tried out at St Peter & St Paul. The
managing director of Trace-in-Metal, which has developed the
technology, John Minary, said: "A proportion of the lead from St
Peter and St Paul has been infused with thousands of heat-resistant
coded microdots, which means the lead will be traced back to the
"The microdots will survive the temperatures used to recycle
lead, as they are both painted on to the surface of the lead, and
infused into the lead sheet itself. The lead is also marked with
the postcode of the church, PE20 2HH, and has mini-labels attached,
indicating that the lead is indelibly marked.
"It is important to stress that these markers will survive
extreme heat." The presence of the markers and the postcode can be
found simply by using an ultra-violet torch, Mr Minary said.
"This is a test case for us, because it is the first occasion on
which we've had any lead with coded microdots stolen. We have
alerts out all over the country to look for this lead . . . it's
simply a matter of finding the lead, tracing it back to the source
of the theft, and we'll have a strong evidence trail there."
The Historic Churches' Support Officer for the diocese of
Lincoln, Matthew Godfrey, said: "Hopefully, this new technology
will prove to be a very good deterrent."
Mr Minary said: "Both the Grade I listed churches have received
sizeable grants to carry out vital restoration work: St Peter &
St Paul received £175,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund; and St
Mary's had £46,300 from the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair
Police are also relying on the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013
which makes it harder for thieves to sell on stolen metal.
Scrap-metal dealers who buy and sell for cash now face fines of up
to £5000 under the Act, which also requires them to record and keep
details of the name and address of the seller.
When the law was introduced, the Crime Prevention Minister
Jeremy Browne said: "Metal theft costs the UK economy around £220
million a year, and it has a huge impact on our communities."