Since 2015 the theft of metal from church roofs has dramatically increased. A large number of thefts by organised crime have occurred along major trunk routes, such as the M11, A1 and M40 and tall churches are no longer safe from theft. Worse, the gangs will strip churches or cathedrals in broad daylight in city or town centres as well as targeting rural churches. “The return of metal theft has made all churches vulnerable and, in view of the size of St Mary’s, our Church Council decided that we need to install a roof alarm”, says David Tomlinson, Team Rector. “Our alarm is supplied by a company which has fitted over 750 alarms on churches and cathedrals across the country, whose technology is well proven and is the same company which recently fitted an alarm at All Saints in Ashdon”, David explained.
The alarm was tested and went live on Thursday 23rd March. The installation has been project managed by Steve Hasler, a churchwarden, who explained that “the sensors we have installed at St Mary’s detect body heat and movement and the suppliers have tuned the sensors to filter out birds and small mammals, e.g. squirrels. The alarm is a human voice which states “Warning, warning. You have activated the alarm system and CCTV is now monitoring you. Security personnel are on their way. Leave now” and is accompanied by a flashing strobe light which will illuminate anyone on the roof. Once the alarm is activated by the 24 hour monitoring centre, the police will be alerted.”
“We have had a policy that we do not publish any aerial photographs of the church but the availability of small, relatively inexpensive drones has made it increasingly difficult to stop others doing so and there is convincing evidence that the crime gangs are using drones to survey church roofs. Even though it is illegal to fly a drone over a populated area without permission from the CAA, this happens quite frequently and is very difficult to stop”, said David Tomlinson.
If anyone has any questions or concerns about the new alarm they should ring St Mary’s Parish Office on 01799 506024.