A security expert has recommended that the theft of lead from church roofs be considered a hate crime.
Church lead theft on the rise
The results of a new survey reveal criminal gangs are increasingly turning to metal theft, including from church roofs.
Security experts have warned that the thieves will often get violent if confronted.
The survey was published by VPS Security Services, which is a specialist provider of vacant, occupied and site security solutions.
They found that there were on average 37 reports of lead theft from churches in Britain each month.
Last year, a security expert recommended that the theft of lead from church roofs be considered a hate crime.
Nick Tolson, head of National Churchwatch, an independent organisation that provides advice on crime and security for places of worship, said when arsonists attacked his church in Hampshire in 2015 for a second time, just weeks after a Bible was left burning at the altar in a previous attack, it wasn't treated as religiously motivated.
"If a crime happens in a mosque or a synagogue, it is assumed to be a hate crime unless proved otherwise, but if it happens in a church it is assumed to be a normal crime," Tolson told The Times at the time.
The National Crime Agency found that metal theft has risen by 25 per cent in a year.
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