Invisible paint protection
A REVOLUTIONARY new paint which will tarnish criminals ripping lead from roofs could be introduced in Soham to protect churches and schools. Thieves have targeted the buildings running up bills of thousands of pounds as they grab the lead to sell for scra
A REVOLUTIONARY new paint which will tarnish criminals ripping lead from roofs could be introduced in Soham to protect churches and schools.
Thieves have targeted the buildings running up bills of thousands of pounds as they grab the lead to sell for scrap.
But now they could be marked by the innovative paint which could prove crucial evidence in securing court convictions.
The material, which would be painted across the roofs and leave its mark on clothing, would show up under an ultraviolet lamp and even a sample the size of a pin head could be vital evidence.
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Thieves have already struck at Soham's Weatheralls Primary School ripping almost £4,000 worth of lead from the roof.
Fordham and Isleham Primary Schools have also become victims of the illegal trade after more than £5,000 worth of lead was stolen.
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Parish churches in Wicken and Fordham have been hit and across the diocese thousands of pounds are being spent on the new smart paint in a bid to protect buildings.
Detective Adam Gallop of Cambridgeshire Police who is coordinating the fight against metal theft, said: "Crimes against schools and churches are particularly despicable as it affects such a wide community. The people committing them are anyone and everyone of a criminal mindset.
"It's perceived as a relatively low risk crime and the rewards are potentially high as lead and copper are fetching good prices on the international metal market."
Police are now working with scrap metal yards in the East Cambridgeshire area to stamp out the problem which is on the increase.
Det Gallop added: "We want to make all parties aware that property marking schemes are being actively encouraged by the police as a deterrent, and we will be conducting checks using UV lamps at scrap metal yards around the county."
Lead thefts at churches across the Ely Diocese have cost almost half a million pounds and school thefts have cost £75,000.
Cambridgeshire County Councillor Jill Tuck, cabinet member for children and young people's services, said: "These thefts are on the increase. Not only do they disrupt children's education when affected buildings have to close but they also pose a great danger, not only to the children but to the thieves themselves."
Advice on property marking is available from the Community Safety Partnership on 01223 457042 and anyone with any information about lead thefts is urged to call Cambridgeshire Police on 0845 456 4564 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111,