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Last updated 24th November 2017

Metal theft

Metal theft from Historic Buildings

The Historic England metal theft guidance is now published in its final illustrated format. There is much good advice in it on how to avoid metal theft – and so relevant to all churches with lead, not only those who have suffered from theft.

While metal thefts from churches have reduced in recent years the issue has not gone away and Ecclesiastial Insurance continue to see new claims. 

level of metal theft risk a church can face varies and Ecclesiastical recommend all PCCs review the Metal Theft Checklist to see if there are any precautions that can be taken to reduce the chances of this problem affecting you.

The application and registration of SmartWater (or an approved alternative), along with the display of prominent signage is a condition of Ecclesiastical Insurance policies . If you do not meet this policy condition you will not be covered for theft or attempted theft of metal, or the subsequent damage.

If you have had a recent metal theft act quickly. Don’t be complacent - if you replace stolen metal with lead or copper and do not improve security the thieves will be back.

Cover for theft of metal when scaffolding is to be erected

The presence of scaffolding on any building can seriously compromise general security. Because of this insurance policies normally exclude theft of external metal (normally on roofs) when scaffolding is erected. However, Ecclesiastical do offer some cover subject to various conditions.

What cover is available?

When a church with external metal is having scaffolding erected for repairs or other building work we may be able to provide insurance cover up to the limit of your building and/or contents sum insured for theft of external metal and for any subsequent damage.

What do we need to do to qualify for cover?

A church must meet the following minimum requirements:

  •   You must have applied SmartWater (or an alternative forensic marker approved by Ecclesiastical), put up the warning signage in a prominent position and registered the product      and
  • You must have installed a roof alarm to a specification approved by Ecclesiastical which is linked to a monitoring service and is regularly maintained        and
  • You must put the arrangements in place that are detailed in the checklist.


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