‘Excellent work by a special squad of Lincs Police officers who arrested 4 West Midlands men, who were sentenced to a total of 22 years at Lincoln Crown Court, after admitting stealing lead from 36 churches, largely Grade I and II listed buildings across the East Midlands. The thefts over about 2 years, occurred largely in Lincs, Leicestershire and Rutland, Northants, and Cambridgeshire. The value of the thefts exceeded £2m (largely uncovered by insurance), but the grief caused to small communities, who are still attempting to repair the damage to their heritage is difficult to quantify
Shown above 4 men Constantin Motescu, Paul Buica, Mihai Birtu and Laurentiu Sucea who have been jailed for a total of 22 years for carrying out a series of lead thefts from historic churches.
Picture above shows result of theft of Lead on a church roof which was targeted by a gang of thieves across East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
The offences resulted in Lincolnshire Police setting up a specialist unit to track down the offenders.
Constantin Motescu, 32, of Stebbings, Sutton Hill, Telford, admitted 23 charges of theft.
Paul Buica, 25, of George Street, Birmingham, admitted 16 thefts.
Mihai Birtu, 24, of Port Street, Evesham, admitted 14 thefts, while Laurentiu Sucea, 38, of George Street, Birmingham, admitted 13 thefts.
Motescu and Sucea were each jailed for six and a half years.
Paul Buica was jailed for six years, while Mihai Birtu was jailed for three years and seven months.
Detective Chief Inspector Jon Shield, leading the investigation, said: “Working in partnership with other forces and agencies including the Diocese of Lincoln and Historic England, our dedicated Op History team have worked tirelessly to ensure justice is served.
“Some of the church congregations are still struggling to find the funds to repair the damage and restore their significant historical buildings which means so much to them as well as the local communities they serve.“The vast majority of these churches will have had insurance in place, but the insurance only covers a small part of the costs so congregations have been left to foot the remainder of the bill.”Individual churches were left to foot the repair bills themselves, as many could only obtain insurance cover for damage up to £7,500.
Mark Harrison, Head of Heritage Crime Strategy for Historic England said:
“The metal stolen will have historic and cultural value and its removal leads to irreparable damage to protected heritage buildings, which is why tackling this problem is so important.”
The Chief Executive of Historic England, Duncan Wilson, also spoke out on the case, believing it highlights how stealing metal from church roofs is a serious crime
He said: “The outcome of this case highlights the benefits of collaborative working between the Police, Crown Prosecution Service, church communities and Historic England and is an approach we shall continue to use when dealing with metal theft. The theft of metal from historic church buildings is a serious and organised crime Removing large areas of lead or copper from roofs has not just a serious financial effect on church communities but a huge effect on their morale.”