Churches to get extra security

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ANTI-THEFT devices are to be installed on the roofs of eastern England’s most targeted churches.

Churches in the east of the country have claimed more than £365,000 from insurance companies in the last year after being struck by lead thieves.

In an attempt to reduce this figure, church and heritage insurer Ecclesiastical has launched a campaign to install roof alarms to the region’s worst affected churches.

The company will spend £500,000 installing alarms and encouraging other churches and businesses to raise the money required to ensure their local churches are protected.

John Howard, spokesman for the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, said: “Beautiful old churches are at the heart of so many of our communities and the Church of England is the custodian of 45 per cent of all grade I listed buildings within our nation.

“I am relieved that within Suffolk, crime levels in general are far lower and our churches are not targeted by thieves to the extent that they may be in other areas of the country.

“However, my heart goes out to worshippers at any church that is targeted within Suffolk and, indeed, anywhere in the UK and I am grateful to Ecclesiastical for taking an initiative in these matters.”

The alarms will use concealed sensors on the church roofs to detect movement. When activated, the alarms emit a powerful flashing blue light and a recorded message is played through a loud speaker.

The activation can also signal a remote monitoring unit summoning security personnel to the scene.