Theft of Metal from Church Buildings

Theft of metals from church buildings has become more and more of a problem over recent years.  Metals such as lead and copper can often be found on and around churches, making them targets for thieves who plan to sell the metal on to recyclers for cash.

Metal on churches

Churches often have lead on their roofs and guttering, as well as other areas.  Having lead stolen from these places can damage the church and leave the building exposed to the elements which can lead to further rain and wind damage.  Lightning conductors, church bells and water pipes may also contain these desirable metals

Preventing metal theft

It is almost certainly easier to prevent a metal theft than it is to deal with the aftermath of a theft.  Here are some top tips to help you prevent metal theft from your church buildings:


  • Restrict and prevent access to the roof by removing tall trees and anything that could be used to help someone scale the building. Any ladders should be locked away when not in use, as well as anything such as a wheelbarrow that could be used to transport stolen materials.


  • Some areas of roof may be unavoidably accessible. Try to secure these areas as best as possible and consider strategically planting some prickly shrubs and bushes around access points as deterrents.


  • Anti-climb paint is also a great way to deter vandals and thieves from climbing the building. This greasy non-drying paint can be applied to drainpipes and also on the target metal.  Not only does it make objects difficult to grip, but it rubs off to stain the thief so it’s obvious what they’ve been doing.  This should only be applied 2 metres from the ground and warning signs should be displayed.


  • Check that lighting around the church is in good working order – enhanced visibility may deter thieves.


  • Try to restrict close access to the premises by vehicles.


  • Talk to neighbours and let them know how they could help by reporting any suspicious behaviour but remember to tell them if you have any planned work taking place – you don’t want them to report contractors who are supposed to be there!


  • If you don’t already have one, think about having an alarm system installed by a NSI or SSAIB approved company. CCTV is another good deterrent but this can be costly.