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16 September 2010, 12:10 | Updated: 16 September 2010, 12:13
Police in Fordingbridge want to put a stop to lead thieves after £40,000 of it was stolen from a church in the town.
The lead was stolen from the roof of St Mary’s Church between September 5 and Tuesday September 7.
Emergency repairs had to be carried out following the incident to prevent further damage to the building from rainfall.
An attempted theft then took place between Tuesday September 7 and Friday September 10. Offenders tried to steal lead flashing from above the front door of a house in Shaftsbury Street.
Officers are continuing to distribute DNA marking kits to premises which have been targeted by thieves in a bid to prevent and detect further lead thefts in the area. Many of the businesses targeted have chosen to replace the stolen lead with a substitute that has no scrap value to avoid being targeted again.
The DNA grease is a thick, sticky, non-drying substance which is almost impossible to remove completely once applied.
It fluoresces under UV light and each batch contains its own unique chemical DNA signature, which is forensically identifiable.
As well as marking the metal, the product will also mark any person who comes in contact with it and will remain on skin and clothing, even after washing.
We are also issuing local scrap yards with ultraviolet scanners so that we can work together to apprehend those who handle stolen lead.
Inspector James Douglas said: “We are committed to tracking down and prosecuting those responsible for metal thefts and to working with the community to prevent further offences from taking place.
"This crime is particularly distressing for the victim as in many cases they are often unaware of the theft until their premises are flooded due to rain incursion through the damaged roof.
"The cost to the victim is often disproportionate to the value of the stolen lead. A thief may make a few pounds, but the true cost to the victim can run into thousands. Many of the premises are public buildings, which ultimately costs us all.
"We are appealing to the public and metal trade to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity as soon as it happens. Anybody convicted of lead theft faces a maximum term of imprisonment of seven years and we will be actively pursuing anyone convicted for the full replacement and repair costs by way of compensation.”
Anyone who witnesses suspicious behaviour or who has information about lead thefts is asked to contact the Fordingbridge Safer Neighbourhoods team on 101. Alternatively you can call the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.