Partnership Working to Tackle Lead Theft

In response to an increase in the number of thefts of lead and copper from buildings such as electricity sub-stations, churches, schools and commercial premises, Police in St Helens teamed up with partners including St Helens Council, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, SmartWater and church representatives to address the issue.

The figures show there were 23 thefts reported to police in December, and 37 in November. The majority of reports were for the theft of lead flashing and roof sheeting, copper cabling and aluminium strips, however, there were also offences reported in which electric cables had been cut, which did result in a recent death in Fingerpost last month.

lead theft

Soaring demand

It is believed the increase in thefts is due to the soaring demand in the developing world, particularly China which has fuelled a dramatic increase in the price of lead and copper. Police believe it is possible the stolen metal is being sold in England and then shipped abroad.
A response targeting both crime reduction and enforcement action was introduced.

Throughout the day, Firefighters and SmartWater representatives security marked a number of church roofs with SmartWater. SmartWater carries a unique forensic code and property can be instantly identified if stolen.


Police Officers carried out both plain clothes and high visibility patrols in the hotstpot areas, resulting in:

6 arrests:
Paul Challenor, aged 33 years of no fixed abode, was charged with Handling Stolen Goods.

Chris Bolan, aged 37 years, from Whalley Avenue, Windlehurst, was charged with Going Equipped for Theft.

John Guy, aged 29 years from Derbyshire Hill Road, Parr, was charged with Possession of a Class A Controlled Drug. He is due to appear at St Helens Magistrates Court on 23 January 2008.

Susan Robertson, aged 50 years from Kennelwood Avenue, Liverpool was charged with a Section 5 Public Order offence (words/behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress). She is due to appear at St Helens Magistrates Court on 11 February 2008.

Terry Stephen, aged 18 years, from Nicholson Street, Broad Oak, was charged with a Warrant (failing to appear at St Helens Magistrates Court on 21 December 2007 for a Unauthorised Taking of Motor Vehicle Charge). He appeared at St Helens Magistrates Court yesterday and is due to appear again on Saturday, 12 January 2008.

A 19 year old woman from Newton-le-Willows was issued with an Adult Caution for Possession of a Class A Controlled Drug.

1 street warning issued for Possession of a Controlled Drug.

3 vehicles seized and removed from the roads for having no insurance.

60 items were scanned to identify if they had been security marked with SmartWater.

63 premises were visited included electricity sub-stations, churches, industrial premises.

9 scrap metal dealers were visited.

SmartWater applied to St Helens Parish Church, St Helens Town Centre, and St Andrews Church, Dentons Green - a programme of work has been introduced to SmartWater a variety of buildings across the borough.

Over 2000 leaflets were distributed to the local community, reassuring them that action was being taken in their area and encouraging local communities to provide information.

Also, Police are continuing to work with local scrap dealers, making regular visits and encouraging them to report anything suspicious.

Great Result

Chief Inspector Shaun Holland commented “This is a great result helped by the vigilance of local residents and businesses and the extra preventative measures being taken by the community.”

“Due to the escalating value of metals such as lead and copper, they have become attractive to thieves who are then exchanging them for cash at scrap metal dealers.”

"Only by working together can we successfully reduce this type of crime. The community are our eyes and ears and by sharing information and intelligence we can target those involved in this crime and bring them to justice. If you have information about any suspicious vehicles or people acting in a suspicious manner, or if you have been offered quantities of lead, copper, aluminium for sale, call Merseyside Police on 0151 709 6010 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."