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Theft of Metal from Church Buildings

This guidance note sets out English Heritage’s response to the epidemic of lead theft which is affecting historic buildings and, in particular, parish churches. We recognise that any theft brings frustration, expense and inconvenience to congregations. Preventing future thefts is paramount, but dealing with the unfortunate aftermath in an appropriate way is also very important.

This guidance is in two parts: the first outlines English Heritage’s approach and our advice for congregations on the significance of lead, how to protect it, and how to respond to thefts; the second offers detailed practical information about selecting the material to be used for historic church roofs and making it secure.


1. Why is the lead roof so important?
2. What should we do to protect our metal from theft?
3. What should we do if a theft occurs?
4. What is English Heritage’s approach?
5. What does English Heritage need to know if we want to use a different roof covering and why is this information needed?
6. What else can we do to help stop lead theft?

7. Why is lead used on churches?
8. How can we make roofing materials more secure?
9. What about precautions when other repair work is underway?
10. Changing the roof covering

Appendix I. Why is lead theft happening?
Appendix II. A simple risk assessment

Additional Information


If you require an alternative, accessible version of this document (for instance in audio, Braille or large print) please contact us:

Customer Service Department

Telephone: 0370 333 0607
Fax: 01793 414926
Textphone: 0800 015 0516

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