Church metal theft

30 May 2022

Theft of metal from churches is both costly and damaging. We’ve created a guide to help reduce the risk of metal theft at your church.

Stolen metal from a lead roof

Protecting your church from metal theft

Whilst world demand for metal remains strong, the value of scrap metal will continue to attract thieves to churches. We’re always sad to see the damage metal thefts cause and are actively looking for new ways to deter thieves.

We have also produced metal theft guidance notes which give detailed advice on due diligence and additional security measures that are suitable in a church setting.

The types of metal that are stolen from churches include lead, copper and stainless steel roof coverings. Other areas such as roof flashings, copper lightning conductors and lead rainwater pipes have also been targeted.

Don’t make your church an easy target

  • Restrict vehicle access to the building using gates, fences and bollards.
  • Work with your local police force.
  • Ask your community to be vigilant in reporting any suspicious behaviour.
  • Deter thieves using security lights, CCTV and by cutting back any trees/plants which could hide criminal activity.
  • Take extra care while any building works are in progress – scaffolding, building equipment and ladders left around the church will make life easier for thieves.
  • Use a forensic security marking system to mark your metal and display the signs as a visual deterrent.
  • Invest in a roof alarm, they can be extremely effective. (You can read our roof alarm case study to see how one church’s roof alarm successfully prevented metal theft on three separate occasions.)

Our risk management specialists have put together a metal theft checklist for churches and PCCs to follow. It gives a list of precautions churches can take to reduce the likelihood of metal theft in your area.

Ecclesiastical customers

Church insurance customers are required to have some security measures in place and may receive a discount or additional cover for implementing others.

Security marking

Applying SmartWater® (or an alternative forensic marking system approved by us) to external metal is a condition of your insurance1. Please make sure you have applied SmartWater® solution and registered with SmartWater® and you have displayed the signs warning that metal has been protected. For more information visit our SmartWater® page.

The application and registration of SmartWater (or an alternative approved by us), along with the display of prominent signage is a condition of your policy. If you do not meet this policy condition you will not be covered for theft or attempted theft of metal, or the damage caused by metal theft.

Install an electronic roof security system

Additional actions such as installing an electronic roof security system or CCTV will further reduce the risk of a theft occurring. Over 500 churches now have roof alarms to help protect external metal.

If you install an Ecclesiastical-approved roof alarm we may also be able to increase your theft of metal cover. To find out more visit our roof alarms page or speak with a member of the church team on 0345 777 3322.

Scaffolding and building works

When building works are carried out, extra equipment such as ladders and scaffolding may be present at the church. Items such as these can make it easier for criminals to access metal and we therefore ask churches to be extra vigilant at this time. Please call us on 0345 777 3322 and we will advise on the best course of action to protect your church.