Anger as lead thieves strike in series of raids

Chris Abbott had lead taken from the roof of his store, Cheaper Market, on Layton Road.

Chris Abbott had lead taken from the roof of his store, Cheaper Market, on Layton Road.

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Lead thieves targeted homes, businesses and even a church in Layton in just three days.

Police say £2,000 of lead was taken in six incidents in the past week.

Officers are investigating after St Mark’s Church, on Westcliffe Drive, was hit by thieves on Sunday.

On the same night, lead was stolen from council buildings opposite the nearby Layton cemetery.

Then, in the early hours of Tuesday, a series of four more thefts took place from homes and businesses in the area, on Layton Road and Brooklyn Avenue.

Rev Peter Lillicrap, vicar at St Mark’s, said: “We weren’t feeling very Christian towards them at the time.

“I found out when we were having our harvest and gift day on Sunday.

“There were people giving quite sacrificially, especially in the current climate, so it feels like a real kick in the teeth.”

The thieves appear to have been disturbed, he said, because some of the lead was left folded up on the roof.

Chris Abbott owns Cheaper Market, on Layton Road, which was one of the properties targeted on Tuesday.

He said: “The roof was all lead and they have just ripped it up.

“I had to take the rest off and replace it with felt. It took a day out of my life to do it all.”

Mr Abbott also suggested the thieves may have been disturbed after some of the lead was dumped in the garden of a neighbouring property.

He said: “It’s shocking, especially when people are doing it to churches as well.

“I was annoyed but you just think that’s life nowadays.”

Police have arrested and charged two juveniles with theft in relation to the incident at the council buildings on Sunday. Two boys, aged 15 and 17, have been bailed but police are appealing for any information on the thefts.

Sgt Jim Ormand said he believes three people may have been involved with the most recent thefts, which have similarities to the two committed on Sunday.

He said: “In each case the metal has been cut or pulled away. Over £2,000 of lead flashing has been taken in the six incidents.”

Between the two sets of thefts, the boys were arrested and charged by police but Sgt Ormand said information about any of the incidents would be helpful.

He added: “We believe three male offenders are involved with the thefts on Tuesday. They could be linked.”

The Co-operative store on the corner of Layton Road and Broughton Avenue was also targeted on Tuesday, along with two homes on Brooklyn Avenue.

Anyone with any information is asked to call police on 101.

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• With scrap lead fetching around £1 per kilogram in some places, rooftops are seen by some thieves as an easy source of money.

• Just last month, police warned Layton residents to be vigilant after a spate of metal thefts in the area. Similar warnings have been made across the Fylde coast, including Thornton and Cleveleys in recent months.

• Back in April, a disused bar in Kirkham was stripped of £100,000 of metal by thieves. At the time police said they believed the metal was taken from former nighclub The Edge over a month-long period.

• In March, a man admitted 25 offences of stealing, or attempting to steal, lead from roofs and windows of various Blackpool properties in a two-month period.

• Churches are often seen as potentially lucrative by criminals. Back in December it was reported that St Annes Parish Church (above), on St Annes Road East, had been targeted four times in seven months by thieves looking to get their hands on lead and copper.

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