Some people may lose their shirts in bad investments, but English churches are losing their roofs to copper thieves as the metal's price has increased.
The problem has gotten so bad that insurance companies have told churches to install rooftop monitors and churches have launched a campaign against the thefts, according to Institutional Investor.
“Since the metal vandals have descended in such hordes over the years, our duty of maintenance has become nearly impossible,” says Lord Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, who's leading the "Hands Off Our Church Roofs" program, reports Institutional Investor.
Churches filed over 2,600 claims for stolen copper rooftops last year, an all-time high, according to Ecclesiastical, a British insurance company, reported Institutional Investor.
Thieves visited St. Mary's Church in Hatfield Broad Oak, England, six times over a four-month period to steal pieces of its copper roof, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The church now has an alarm. Livid parishioners might like show the thieves some divine wrath if they get their hands on them, says parish vicar Naomi Wormell, the Times reports.
"I've asked parishioners not to come out with pitchforks, because these are violent men," she says, referring to the thieves, the newspaper reports. "I don't want to bury any parishioners."
Britain loses an estimated $1.2 billion a year to thieves stealing metals like copper, lead, and aluminum, the Times reports. Criminals have taken everything from railways, telephone cables, manhole covers, even aluminum access ramps for the disabled and soldiers' war memorials.
Schools go without heat because of stolen pipes and one hospital had to postpone 81 operations because of cabling taken from a generator, according to the Times.
Scotland Yard is forming a special unit dedicated to metal theft.
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