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  • Metal theft image of church roof stripped of lead  

Metal Theft

Metal thefts from churches we insure have now exceeded £25m, with over 9,000 claims. The level of risk churches face can vary - to find out how at risk you are from metal theft, why not try our self assessment tool?

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Take a look at our quick video for more tips on protecting your church:


Reduce the risk of your church being targeted

Lead, copper and stainless steel roof coverings, roof flashings, copper lightning conductors and lead rainwater pipes have all been targeted. Whilst world demand for metal remains strong their scrap value will continue to be high, making them an attractive target for thieves, and churches will continue to face this problem for the foreseeable future.

We have been actively tackling this problem for several years by:

  • launching a nationwide campaign investing £500,000 to install roof alarms in churches in 'at risk' areas 

  • sending a free SmartWater* forensic security marking kit to every church we insure and now offering it at a discounted rate for policyholders through SmartWater

  • lobbying the police, Parliament and scrap metal dealers 

  • providing theft of metal prevention guidance notes and offering tailored advice for individual churches through our Insurance Consultants and Surveyors.

Top Tips for Protecting Your Church from Metal Theft

1. Security marking – help us to help you

Usage of a forensic marking system approved by us is a policy condition. Please urgently check your church’s status. For more information about SmartWater, our theft of external metal policy condition, success stories and much more, please visit our SmartWater page.

2. Engage with your local community

Joining the local Neighbourhood Watch scheme and urging the church’s neighbours to keep a watchful eye out for anything suspicious around the church can be a big help that costs nothing. Such activity, if identified, should be dealt with by calling the police straightaway and you should inform other churches in your area to put them on their guard.
A good example (from the Diocese of Chichester) on how engaging with your local community can help you can be found here.

3. Install an electronic roof security system

  • Effective at deterring theft of metal as demonstrated in recent trials.

  • The system is specifically designed to detect and deter intruders before any damage is caused.

  • The technology used is virtually invisible and reversible.

  • Large roof areas can be protected cost effectively.

  • If the remote signalling security system is activated the alarm receiving centre carry out a planned response based on your previous instructions - perfect for buildings in remote or rural locations.

  • Did you know?

    If you install an Ecclesiastical-approved roof security system and have also applied a forensic marking system approved by us (such as SmartWater) to external metal, displayed signage and registered with the provider, we may be able to increase your theft of metal cover, depending on your individual circumstances. The roof alarms FAQ sheet has more information about this.

For more information (including about permissions) or to arrange a free*, no-obligation alarm survey please call 0845 600 9659.

*UK mainland only - travel expenses may be applicable offshore.

**The registration and use of SmartWater, or an alternative forensic marking system approved by us, is a policy condition on both our Parishguard and Hallguard policies.

Is your SmartWater kit registered?

SmartWater logo

If you are unsure, you can call SmartWater on 01952 204 102 and check.

It’s vital to know, as you won’t have cover for external metal theft if your kit isn’t registered.

Metal theft - how at risk are you?

We’ve produced an easy to use self assessment tool to help you assess the risk of metal theft for your church.

Theft of metal documents

Choose the document that you are interested in below.

  • Guidance notes - theft of metal

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Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc (EIO) Reg. No. 24869. Ecclesiastical Insurance Group plc (EIG) Reg. No. 1718196. Ecclesiastical Life Ltd (ELL) Reg. No. 243111. Ecclesiastical Investment Management Ltd (EIM) Reg. No. 2519319. Ecclesiastical Financial Advisory Services Ltd (EFAS) Reg. No. 2046087. Ecclesiastical Services Ltd (ES) Reg. No. 1811698. E.I.O. Trustee Ltd Reg. No. 941199. All companies are registered in England at Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester, GL1 1JZ, UK. Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc and Ecclesiastical Life Limited are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Ecclesiastical Financial Advisory Services is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Ecclesiastical Services Limited is an appointed representative of Ecclesiastical Insurance Office Plc who is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.