Clevedon church roof thieves jailed
- Credit: Lincolnshire police
Clevedon Baptist was among 36 churches targeted by a gang from the West Midlands which stole lead from their roofs worth £2.1million.
Four men were sentenced a combined 22 years and seven months at Lincoln Crown Court on January 6, for the theft of lead from churches across the country.
Constantin Motescu, aged 32, of Stebbings, Sutton Hill, Telford, admitted 23 charges of theft; Paul Buica, aged 25, of George Street, Birmingham, admitted 16 thefts; Mihai Birtu, aged 24, of Port Street, Evesham, admitted 14 thefts and Laurentiu Sucea, aged 38, of George Street, Birmingham, admitted 13 thefts.
The thieves had previously admitted a total of 36 offences, which involved stripping tonnes of lead from a mixture of Grade I and Grade II churches from across the country, between May 2018 and March 2020.
Clevedon Baptist Church, in Station Road, was targeted by the thieves between October 24-28, 2019.
The amount of money they gained from scrapping the lead would have been much lower than the cost to the churches.
Motescu and Sucea both were given six-and-a-half-year prison sentences. Buica was jailed for six years; and Birtu was jailed for three years and seven months.
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Detective Chief Inspector, Martyn Cannon, is from Operation Remedy, the Avon and Somerset Constabulary team targeting burglary, drug and knife crime.
He said: "Avon and Somerset officers, including those from Operation Remedy, worked with colleagues in other areas, including Lincolnshire Police who led this successful prosecution.
"This court result shows how well police services collaborate nationally to bring criminals to justice. These buildings are of great spiritual and historic significance to our communities.
"The damage caused a great sense of loss and in many cases an ongoing financial burden for refurbishment of the buildings."
Lincolnshire police Detective Chief Inspector, Jon Shield, leading the investigation in the region, said: "Some of the church congregations are still struggling to find the funds to repair the damage.
"The impact of these offences goes well beyond the significant financial cost. Communities have felt a great sense of loss at the damage caused to their heritage."