Will a booming voice deter church thieves?

GOD is portrayed in the Bible as the most powerful and bad-tempered force in the universe. Each time he throws a tantrum – which is often, if his biography is to be believed – he indiscriminately reigns down terror and death  on saints and sinners alike with plagues, floods, droughts and all manner of others ghastly things.

But when it comes to smiting rogues who nick metal from church roofs, the Celestial Psychopath has sanguinely chosen to look the other way.

Lots of silly things rouse the wrath of the Almighty, but nicking metal from church roofs does not appear to be one of them

This, perhaps, is his way of testing the ingenuity of his representatives on earth with an indifferent “it’s your problem, so solve it” shrug.

So they have, in a way.

A report in the Telegraph this week says that special movement sensors are to be hidden in spires and finials triggering a “booming voice” warning miscreants that they have been detected and that security guards are on their way.

The initiative, backed by the Church of England, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Home Office, comes after the rate of metal thefts reached “catastrophic” proportions in some dioceses with an average of seven churches targeted every day.

An insurance company has donated £500,000 to pay for hi-tech alarms to be fitted in 100 churches in England, Scotland and Wales judged to be most at risk.

But organisers hope that hundreds of other parishes will raise funds themselves to fit the devices – adapting the traditional church roof appeal model to cope with the metal theft crisis.

Last year alone the insurance firm Ecclesiastical – which provides cover for 96 per cent of Anglican churches – received 2,600 claims for metal thefts, the highest ever in a single year.

The Church of England, which alone is responsible for almost half of all grade one listed buildings in Britain, has admitted the task of maintaining its buildings is becoming impossible.

Metal theft is now being viewed as a treated as a serious threat to Britain’s national heritage.

A security campaign called “Hands of Our Church Roofs” is being backed by an actress and a bishop: Liz Hurley and the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres.

The bishop said said:

Since the metal vandals have descended in such hordes over recent years our duty of maintenance has become nearly impossible. New Government legislation will undoubtedly help, but we all need to remain vigilant and try to get a step ahead of these well-organised raiders.

Miss Hurley added:

Beautiful old churches are at the heart of so many of our communities and I find it truly shocking that anyone would steal lead from a church roof. I heartily endorse the campaign to have alarms fitted.

There’s another solution that may be cheaper and more satisfying. Many ex-servicemen find it hard getting employment in the UK, and they could be enrolled as gunners on church roofs.

Given his past form, God would no doubt approve of the resultant slaughter.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

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