Renewed appeal and warning over high value lead thefts

East Riding of Yorkshire and Hull

11 Dec 2019

Thieves have removed the lead from the roofs of 13 building including churches and disused buildings across the East Riding and Hull causing damage and theft worth thousands of pounds.

Community Inspector Phil Hinch has said, “In September I spoke about five thefts that had been reported to us when thieves stole the lead from the roofs of five churches in the East Riding.

“We are continuing to investigate all of these incidents as well as the theft lead from the roof of a bank in Driffield.

“Unfortunately since then there have been further thefts both in the East Riding and in Hull as well.

“The financial impact on the churches is huge and they have had a big impact on the local village communities too.

“This additional thefts have been reported at a further three East Riding churches and four properties in Hull, taking the total to 13 across the region.

“I would appeal for anyone who has any information about these thefts to contact us so that we can identify those responsible and bring them to justice.

“I also would like to ask for the communities in towns and villages across the East Riding to be extra vigilant and to keep an eye out for anyone acting suspiciously.  If you do see something call us immediately on 999 so that we can respond and catch them in the act. 

“If anyone sees people working on a church roof contact us so that we can check that they are legitimate workers.

“If anyone, such as scrap merchants, is offered a large quantity of lead please get in touch with us so we can add this to our lines of enquiries.”

Anyone with information should call us on our non-emergency number 101 quoting reference 16/125250/19.

More information about Heritage and Rural Crime:

The theft of lead falls under ‘Heritage Crime’ if you want to find out more about rural crime and heritage crime please look on our website:

Dr Louise Grove, Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Social Policy, Loughborough University is quoted by Historic England on their website about the effect that this type of crime has on the building and the community it serves.

“Listed places of worship are often the target for lead theft - they have relatively large amounts of valuable metal, in often isolated locations. But listed places of worship are not simply heritage assets. They are often a place for congregation - not just for worship but for playgroups, coffee mornings, commiserations and celebrations. In remote areas - particularly with rapidly closing post offices, pubs, and community centres - places of worship remain a focal point for the community. They play an important role in reducing loneliness and isolation across the generations, as well as being an important source of information for genealogists and historians.

“When metal is taken from the roof of a place of worship, it is not just the fabric of the building that is damaged, but the fabric of the wider community. When metal is removed from the roof, it reduces the usability of the place of worship - and sometimes prevents it being safely used for months at a time. The impact of this tertiary victimisation must not be underestimated, and we should consider these wider issues when looking at prioritising our (inevitably) limited crime prevention resources.

“It's widely acknowledged that heritage has many benefits - it's linked with improved health outcomes, a sense of community, and nurturing a knowledge and understanding of our past. At a time when so much in our communities is under threat, it is vital that we give ourselves the opportunity to address at least this one item on the agenda: protecting our shared spaces from heritage metal theft.”