Norwich’s Roman Catholic Cathedral has been fitted with a hi-tech crime-busting CCTV surveillance system following three separate lead thefts.

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The thefts have seen lead valued at £20,000 stolen from the Cathedral of St John the Baptist on Earlham Road in just 12 months.

The crimes prompted concerned cathedral bosses to get a state-of-the art CCTV system installed to try to deter thieves.

The cathedral is now protected by seven strategically-placed cameras, which produce high quality digital images and allow 24-hours-a-day site monitoring.

While not revealing the exact cost of the crime-fighting initiative, installed by Wroxham-based security experts Dragon Security Systems, the “five-figure security investment” means all parts of the landmark building and The Narthex Visitor Centre at the top of Grapes Hill are now closely monitored.

Estates manager, the Rev Patrick Limacher, said: “Over the last 12-14 months we have had three lead thefts with a total insurance claim of £18-20,000.

“Insurance companies will only go so far and so we needed to persuade them that we were being proactive about prevention. That is why we had this system put in – in direct response to those thefts.

“If there was a further theft, this system will be able to identify the people involved.”

Rev Limacher said the new system could record everybody who enters and exits the cathedral, though the authorities stressed there would be no CCTV camera intrusion into daily worship.

He said: “Thefts from catholic churches have been a particular problem and in one case a tabernacle was stolen.

“It is getting more common, which is a sad state of affairs, but it is something we have to protect against and that is why we have installed this system.”

Rev Limacher said the system, which can zoom in, pan out or see close-ups and panoramic views could also be used remotely from home using the internet.

He added: “It gives us confidence that if we have an incident we are able to go to the police and show them exactly what the incident was, what happened, how it happened and who did it.

Dragon’s technical consultant Robert McDonald said: “The main advantage with this particular system is that the cameras deliver hi-resolution images that are of superior quality, enabling increased ease of identification.”

Do you have a crime story? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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