Church thieves strike again
A BEXHILL church has been left counting the cost after roof lead thieves struck again.
St Michael's in Glastonbury Drive has been hit twice in the past two weeks - and in fact four times in two years.
Now with insurance limits already broken, the church faces a repair bill of 4,900.
District church warden Mick Gregory says there have been other lead thefts from local churches and homes and is urging the public to be "vigilant and report to the police any suspicious vehicles or activity in their area".
The first time lead was taken from St Michael's was April 2008 '“ from the vestry roof - and cost the insurers 3,500 to replace with the church paying the excess.
In January this year the lead, which had been coated with Smartwater, was stolen from the same roof area, now costing insurers 3,400.
Approaches were made to the Diocese to allow repair using different material '“ a liquid plastic cover used successfully on the church at Fairlight and also Eastbourne pier which is a Grade Two listed building.
It took Rev Stephen Huggins and the church wardens almost six months to get permission for this to proceed and work to replace the lead began on Monday, July 5.
It was well underway by the time thieves returned that following weekend to steal from behind the bell tower and also the organ loft.
The cost of replacing this is expected to be 4,900 but as the church has already made its allotted claim it is left with the job of raising the money itself '“ the insurance company used by the church will only insure theft of lead up to 5,000 in any one calendar year.
To add insult to injury, thieves returned last weekend (July 17/18) to try to remove the liquid plastic covering thinking it was still lead.
Mick Gregory commented: "It's reckoned ecclesiastic insurers get over 900 claims a year on lead thefts and it costs them millions of pounds. It does all make you worry about what is going on...are they going to come back?
"Will they damage the new plastic roof because it is quite a good substitute for lead?
"Obviously it is stuck on so we don't want them to damage that.
"As for the rest of the congregation '“ people are wondering why are they doing it?
"But it's not just St Michael's, there are others suffering even worse."
Father Stephen, Team Vicar at St Michael's, said: "The repeated theft of lead from our church roof is a cause of great upset to our congregation who will have to bear much of the financial burden which it will cause.
"St Michael's is held dear by all who worship in it as well as many in the local communitythat it has served for the past 80 years.
"Although this will undoubtedly set us back I am sure all at St. Michael's will rally round to help."