This was a new one for me. Visiting friends in Norfolk, I learned something that would never occur to me in a million years. It seems it is a thing to steal lead from church roofs.
This beautiful St. Mary's Church in Carleton Forehoe, dating from the 15th century, had just been stripped of its lead roof. Such heists are carefully orchestrated and the escalating cases of vandalism have become a big a problem for historic landmark churches in England.
Hardened ecclesiastic criminals wait until the darkest hours of the night to dismantle history. Lead, a soft metal, is cut away from the roof structure supports and rolled up like scrolls. Then it's quietly passed down to the ground crew. Near the end of the pillage, a van bursts through the hedges off the main road. In the blink of an eye, the lead is loaded and gone long before the police can respond to any alarms.
Lead is valuable as scrap metal, and there is no way to punish these highwaymen unless they are actually caught in the act. Apparently cctv footage is not enough evidence to prosecute. And it's highly unlikely they will be caught in the act since these crimes occur in rural areas where traversing narrow country lanes is impossible at high speeds.
Below is a view of the Church of St. Mary from our friends' house. The scary thing is their bedroom looks right out at the church. The thieves were most likely watching to see when they turned out their lights for the night so they could get started.
Being a California native, I am not used to hearing stories like this. No churches around me have lead roofs. In fact, very little of where I live is older than 50 years. Lead on a 600 year old church is not fathomable, let alone the idea of it being seen as a commodity to sell.
If there is a hell, you can be sure that those who rape a church will be paying their dues.
One last thing. Here is a key to the church. Since it sits on the edge of our friends' estate, they get to be the custodians. It's monstrous. As I was holding it, I was thinking of how many hands it had passed through in the church's history. Utterly fascinating.
lead rooftop photograph courtesy of HE Heritage Crime @HeritageCrime 5 Dec 2016
with this link below:
All Churches Trust @NatChurchTrust website for details of grants for roof alarms
http://www.allchurches.co.uk/news/roof-protection-scheme/index.aspx … #OpCrucible pic.twitter.com/bkTb8CfZnH