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Historic hall targeted by lead thieves

PUBLISHED: 17:10 04 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:04 01 July 2010

St Andrew's Hall.

St Andrew's Hall.

Sam Emanuel

Heritage chiefs have urged thieves who steal metal from medieval buildings to think about the damage they are doing to the city and its history after £2,000 worth of lead was stolen from the roof of St Andrew's Hall.

Heritage chiefs have urged thieves who steal metal from medieval buildings to think about the damage they are doing to the city and its history after £2,000 worth of lead was stolen from the roof of St Andrew's Hall.

Police are investigating the theft, which happened between midnight on Thursday, May 6 and 10am on Tuesday, June 1 and was noticed during a roof inspection.

They say the number of metal thefts around the city has surged in the past five months, with a particular spate during April and May, which could be linked to a hike in the prices of metal.

Three people have been arrested, but as reported in the Evening News yesterday, thieves continue to target the west centre, city centre and Mile Cross, Catton and Fiddlewood areas of Norwich, and some of the thefts have seen them cut gas pipes, creating a safety risk and affecting central heating and air conditioning.

Sophie Cabot, engagement manager at Norwich's Heritage, Economic and Regeneration Trust (Heart), said: “It's really sad that people would target our historic buildings like this.

“Thefts like this have the potential to do a lot of damage - water can get in if the lead is removed, particularly if the theft is not noticed for a long time, and this can do no end of damage to the wood, plaster and finishing inside the building.

“People tend to think it will be insured, but it is happening so much it will certainly affect premiums and could affect whether people can use these buildings for free.

“These important medieval buildings belong to everyone, and they are stealing from the city and its heritage.

“It's happened a lot around the city. Sometimes the lead is really old and interesting - I've seen some before with grafitti done by firewatchers in the Second World War. This history is lost if the metal is just sold and melted down.

“If scrap metal dealers didn't buy scrap without provenance, it wouldn't happen, but although they are not supposed to, they must be doing it.”

The Evening News reported last month how church leaders had called on people in the city to keep a look out for thieves looking to strip lead from historic buildings.

The plea comes as it emerged St George's Church in Colegate had lead ripped from its roof at the end of April. Thieves have also stolen from abandoned factory units, businesses and people's homes.

Anyone with information should contact PC Aaron Parker on 0845 4564567 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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