Wells communities urged to join the fight against metal thieves

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By Wells_Jaqui | Sunday, July 15, 2012, 18:35

Wells Police are asking everyone living across the Mendips, with views to the local churches to be vigilant after a number of churches have had lead stolen from their roofs.

Parish churches across the Mendips have recently been targeted by metal thieves. 

The damage and financial impact of these thefts has been exacerbated by the appalling recent wet weather. A number of the thefts were discovered as a result of rain running through the ceiling and causing damage inside the churches in the absence of the protective lead.

PC Whatley, from Wells Police Station, said: "Metal thieves often target churches and other buildings at the heart of our community. It costs a lot for owners to replace the metal and if it rains before the theft is discovered the water gets in causing additional problems. All this means additional expense and inconvenience for the church and its parishioners."

With the aim of deterring would be thieves, police across the South West have recently launched Operation Tornado -a cross-border proactive initiative that includes Avon and Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Constabularies working together to target metal thieves.

Since the launch at the end of June, anyone going to a yard to sell metal is now being asked for evidence of identity and proof of address. This makes it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal, in turn constricting the market in which thieves can operate and making it more difficult to sell-on stolen goods.

PC Whatley added: "If you live near a church please be watchful for people acting suspiciously – particularly if they have lorries or trucks nearby, or vehicles that seem to be driving up and down without obvious cause.

"If you see anyone, including workmen, working on churches or community buildings at any time of the day or night, please contact your local police who will confirm whether they are legitimate. A high-vis' vest doesn't mean they should necessarily be there! Those with a legitimate reason or purpose will not mind confirming who they are and what they are doing."

If you see people acting suspiciously near a church please call police on 999 if you believe a theft is in progress.

If it is not an emergency you can either report a crime online at www.avonandsomerset.police,uk or call police on 101. Alternatively you can call the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org they will never ask for your name or trace your call.

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