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Theft of Lead - posted October 17th, 2011

The value of lead to thieves has been illustrated over the past few weeks with thefts from the roof of both St Remigius Church, Hethersett, and Little Melton Parish Church.

Lead has been stolen from Little Melton on no fewer than five occasions and on Wednesday October 12th metal was taken from the roof of Hethersett Parish Church.

The thefts have led Rector and Vicar of Hethersett and the Meltons, the Rev Di Lammas, to support a change in the laws to make it more difficult for thieves to sell on scrap metal. She is urging local people to sign a Government e-petition to change the law. The petition already has almost 17,000 signatures.

"This could make a big difference - not just to churches but to those now losing door knockers and house numbers! Please sign the petition and circulate details to friends, neighbours, families," Rev Lammas said.

The petition is looking to make amendments to the Scrap Metal Merchants Act of 1964.

"Due to a significant rise in value, metal has become a much sought after commodity. This increased demand has resulted in a sharp rise in metal theft nationally. Metal fencing, gates, manhole covers and other metallic items are stolen on a regular basis. Property is raided for lead, copper and cabling. War memorials and statues have been taken. Overhead power lines are stolen at serious risk to personal safety with huge costs for replacement and major inconvenience to the public.

"Historically the scrap metal trade has been a cash in hand industry. This creates difficulties as there is no audit trail, making identification of individuals who may be trading stolen metal or who may be committing tax or benefits fraud, a difficult proposition. An amendment to the Scrap Metal Merchants Act 1964 to prohibit cash transactions would make payment by cheque or directly into a bank account mandatory and would be a significant component in reducing metal theft," the e-petition states.

The Hethersett and Little Melton thefts have been reported to the police who are investigating. Local people are urged to be vigilant and report to Norfolk Constabulary anybody acting suspiciously.