Stop the lead theft epidemic

Lead theft reaches epidemic proportions

Police crime statistics reveal that over 67,000 incidences of metal theft were recorded in 2012 and 61,000 in 2013. However, both years’ statistics understate the true extent of the problem as many police forces in England and Wales were still not recording incidences specifically as metal theft. Estimates of the likely total vary from 110,000 to 125,000 but Ecclesiastical Insurance, the UK’s leading church insurer, had at the time received more than 9,000 claims worth over £25m.

For those faced with the crippling financial consequences of lead theft in particular, this is unlikely to be a short-term problem. English Heritage has described the situation as one in which there is ‘an epidemic of lead theft from church buildings’ so much so that ‘In some circumstances like-for-like replacement following a lead theft is not prudent’. It commissioned research by Newcastle University, Loughborough University and the Council of British Archaeology into the scale of the threat of heritage crime in England.

Conclusions confirm that:
• An estimated 18.7% of all listed buildings were affected by crime in 2013.
• Over 70,000 buildings were affected, almost 30,000 of which suffered ‘substantial impact’.
• The biggest single threat of theft and damage to a building is metal theft and the most threatened type of building is a church.
• About three in eight churches or other religious buildings were damaged by crime in 2013
• Thieves often target lead flashings around chimneys and abutment details ripping off roof tiles and causing damage to the roof which has severe implications in terms of the structure as a whole.
• A number of councils are taking steps to tackle the problem by using non-metallic alternatives*2


Haus Profi – The cost-effective solution to prevent lead theft

Little has been written of non-metallic, lead replacement materials and some dismiss them on the basis of the quality of traditional foil-faced flashings. These have no stretchability and only a very basic, inflexible adhesive backing.

Haus-Profi flashings offer a simple and inexpensive option for roof penetrations such as those made for boiler flues and are also ideal for traditional upstand and abutment work. They offer a more effective solution than flashing kits supplied by boiler manufacturers as they create a weathertight seal. Non-toxic and light in weight, Wakaflex® and EasyFlash® have high stretchability and a durable Butylon adhesive backing which offers immediate weatherproofing protection and exceptional resistance to wind uplift. Its self-welding characteristic enables repairs to be carried out quickly and with assurance of long-term performance.

Sabetoflex® and Wakaflex® offer provide a simple means of sealing flues on plain tile and other double-lapped roofs. This otherwise difficult task can be undertaken without employing a specialist roofer so the job can be done more quickly and less expensively.

*1 ITV News
*2 Tackling metal theft – a councillor’s handbook - Local Government Association L13-569