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Priests benefit as lead thefts follow prices decline

Anglican vicars are counting their blessings as church roof metal thefts decrease, due to the recession.

The collapse in global commodity prices has seen the cost of metals plunge with a lack of global demand.

Ecclesiastical Insurance
covers 95% of the countrys Anglican churches. Spokesman Chris Pitt said churches were no longer victims due to the world economy slowing down. He added: One upside of the recession is that it gives churches a bit of a break. But many churches are still very nervous and have got temporary repairs to do from previous thefts.

Churches faced unprecedented challenges in the last two years to fight metal thieves but with material prices dropping and demand falling, insurance claims are dropping.

He said that by the end of 2008 claims fell back to the low levels similar to figures at the start of 2007.

Last year there were 2,300 claims from costing more than £9 million (See MRW story).

At the peak of the claims, thieves were stripping lead from roofs which they sold on to scrap dealers and cashed in on high metal prices. The thefts even led English Heritage in dispute with churches over how best to preserve historic buildings (See MRW story).

Pitt said that churches were still vulnerable to theft but will be well prepared to fight the thieves in the future should demand pick up again and metal prices rise.

Image: Church roof replacement

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