THE VICAR of churches in Pawlett and Puriton which were targeted by metal thieves has spoken in favour of a police campaign.

The Rev Doris Goddard, vicar of St John the Baptist in Pawlett and St Michael and All Angels, Puriton, has told the Mercury she supports police working with local churches to combat metal theft.

A meeting was held at The Old Deanery in Wells last week which saw neighbourhood officers, the regional Operation Tornado team and the Diocese of Bath and Wells give presentations to representatives of over 40 Somerset churches.

The Rev Goddard said: “We've had lead stolen from both churches and I think further support by the police will help greatly.

“If they can target the source where people are selling it and cut it off it wouldn't be worth them stealing it.

“A lot of churches need to update their security and if they can get advice it's a real help.”

Pawlett church is having an alarm system fitted which will include sensors on the roof. A chemical substance known as 'smart water' has also been used which can help police identify lead from that roof.

Nick Denison, Diocesan Secretary, said: “The police recognise the theft of metal from churches is a crime which affects the whole community and we are grateful they are so resolved to catch and prosecute those responsible.”

During the meeting, presentations were given by PC Stephen Whatley, Crime Reduction Officer Yvonne Mears and Paul Playford from the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group (EIG).

The meeting discussed Operation Tornado, where from June anyone going to a yard to sell metal has been asked for a passport, national identity card or photo driving licence, supported by proof of address such as a recent utility bill.

PC Whatley said “If you live near a church please be watchful for people acting suspiciously - particularly if they have lorries or trucks nearby, or vehicles that seem to be driving up and down without obvious cause.”

Contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.