Police launch Tornado after escalating church thefts

METAL thieves in North Somerset are being targeted by the police after a marked increase in thefts across the region.

Operation Tornado has seen Avon and Somerset Constabulary link up with churches from around the district in a bid to clamp down on thefts.

With the global price of metal soaring, North Somerset and the South West has seen an increase in the number of thefts of material from places of worship.

St Andrew’s Church in Congresbury is one church which has been targeted by thieves over the past year.

The church in Station Road was hit by vandals earlier this year who tore a quantity of lead from its office roof, which was replaced with a non-lead alternative.

Operation Tornado has been launched nationally and will see forces across the South West linking up to tackle the rise in thefts from churches.

Scrap metal yards have been asked to sign up to the scheme, with anyone going to a yard to sell metal now asked for proof of their identity in the form of a passport, driving licence or national identity card.

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This makes it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal through their identification, also making it harder to sell on stolen goods.

PC Stephen Whatley said: “Theft of lead from churches is a major issue, which is causing untold distress to communities across the country.

“These thieves are striking at the very heart of our communities and in some cases are causing irreparable damage to some of our most beautiful heritage buildings.”