Holidaymakers return to sunken ceiling after thieves steal lead

A COUPLE returned from a holiday in France to find their ceiling damaged after thieves stole lead from their roof.

Ian and Mary Barr had enjoyed a three-week break abroad but their spirits were dampened when they spotted the ceiling to their study had sunk.

The pair thought it was a leak but it wasn’t until they called out a repair team that Mr Barr looked up and saw that a lump of lead was missing by the chimney. The foot by foot square piece of lead stolen cost £78 around several years ago but the repair work has cost £1,000 which the couple have had to claim on the insurance.

He said, “I couldn’t believe that someone would go to the hassle and nick a bit of lead about a foot square.

“The people had a go at trying to remove some other lead from the chimney area too.”

There has been a spate of lead thefts across the county in the last few months and recently Hailsham Parish Church had £1,000 worth of metal stripped from its roof.

In December last year there were three reported lead thefts in the town. A hair salon was targeted, along with Cuckmere House School in Eastbourne Road and Terminus Buildings in the town. All had lead stolen from their roofs.

Acting Seaford Sergeant Chris Wright said, “In recent months there has been a significant rise in the value of scrap metal meaning that it has become a much sought after commodity.

“Whilst the increased demand has resulted in a sharp rise in metal theft nationally, on a local level we have done all that we can to minimise the risk for homes and businesses, doing so through regular patrols and crime prevention measures.

“That said, I am mindful of the financial hardship suffered by those few unlucky households/businesses that have fallen victim in Seaford over the past six months or so, not to mention the nuisance value of putting right the resultant damage.

“Indeed it often isn’t until we experience a period of wet weather that victims discover they have suffered theft of lead from their roof, damaged ceilings being the telling sign.

“In an effort to avoid further incidents wherever possible I would encourage home and business owners to keep their wheelie bins out of sight, and better still secure as we have found elsewhere in the county that these have been used by offenders as a method of transporting stolen lead from a targeted address or neighbouring property. “Additionally, if you are undertaking some building work or repairs on a roof I would encourage you to consider researching the different lead substitute materials now available. Such materials offer little or no value as scrap and are therefore highly unlikely to be targeted by thieves.”