Police smoke out lead thief

04 March 2016

A THIEF who stripped lead worth up to £40,00 from church roofs was caught because he dropped his cigarette butts at the crime scenes.

Forensic analysis of the cigarette-ends led police to Marian Cristian Nitu, aged 23, from Birmingham. Last week, he pleaded guilty at Norwich Crown Court to stealing lead from two churches near Cromer, in Norfolk.

The court heard that lead valued at between £20,000 and £40,000 was taken from St Peter’s, Guestwick, between August and September 2014, and from All Saints’, Alby, between October and November 2015.

Mr Nitu was identified as the culprit after he was detained for a separate offence in Staffordshire. One of his cigarette ends had been discovered on a headstone, and another on one of the church roofs. He initially denied being in Norfolk on the dates when the lead had been stolen, but later said that he might have visited Norfolk a few times, “as he was religious”.

He also admitted destroying property at the two churches, but denied a charge of theft of donations of cash from All Saints’.

Judge Stephen Holt ordered the donations-theft charge to lie on file, and adjourned sentencing until 29 March for the preparation of pre-sentence reports.

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