Britain’s most prolific church lead thieves have been jailed for a total of more than 20 years after they left the Church of England with a £1 million repair bill.
The gang of six Lithuanian men struck at 20 churches across three counties, ripping the valuable lead off the roofs and throwing it to the ground, wrecking gravestones and monuments below in the process.
In some cases their thefts were not discovered for some time, allowing rainwater to enter the churches and cause even more damage.
Lincoln Crown Court heard that the crime became so common that the Church of England’s insurer began restricting compensation for lead theft to £5,000 per church and allowing only one claim per year.
The gang made nearly £70,000 from selling the stolen metal over a nine-month period last year, but the repairing the damage to the sacred buildings will cost more than 14 times that amount.