Plea for help by lead theft church

| April 16, 2010

OFFICIALS at a church targeted by lead thieves FIVE times in just over a year have appealed for help to tackle the crooks.

St Bartholomew’s, in School Street, Westhoughton, is losing thousands of pounds because it has been the target of thieves so often.

Last week The Bolton News reported how the church had been hit by thieves for a fourth time in 14 months — but it was raided again just hours later.

That prompted church warden James Wilson to attend a meeting of Westhoughton Town Council this week, where he appealed for help following the latest incident, on Easter Monday.

Mr Wilson said: “I am aghast that once again, and in just over one week, the thieves came back with tools, wheelbarrows and roof ladders, and got up onto our roof and stole lead for which they will get very little.”

The latest two incidents, the first of which happened on Sunday, March 28, have cost St Bartholomew’s £4,500 in repairs.

There are three double gates in the church grounds which are locked by Bolton Council’s park and cemeteries team.

But there is a pedestrian entrance on the corner of Church Street and Cemetery Street which does not lock.

Mr Wilson closes the gate every night, but because it belongs to the council he does not have the authority to lock it. He said: “We have asked Bolton Council to pay for a lock.

The thieves are going to get in if they really want our lead but I am just trying to deter them as much as possible.”

Mr Wilson has also raised concerns about security cameras which have failed to capture the thieves.

Westhoughton Town Council agreed to write to Bolton Council asking for the gate to be properly locked, while Mr Wilson has replaced the stolen lead with coping tiles and said he is looking into using plastic in the future.

Cllr David Chadwick said: “I hope this is the last occasion that lead is stolen from St Bartholomew’s, but unfortunately there are some unscrupulous people who think nothing of stealing from a church.

“The church has taken measures to replace the lead with non-lead products, but you can’t guarantee that people won’t perceive it as being lead.”

Anyone with information about the thefts should call police on 0161 872 5050.

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Category: Church Security

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