Protecting churches from metal theft

31 July 2019

Methodist Churches continue to suffer metal thefts but these security measures can help to protect churches and combat crime.

Methodist churches and metal theft – what’s at risk?

Scrap values make certain metals an attractive target for thieves. At present desirable metals include lead and copper and aluminium and roof coverings, roof flashings, copper lightning conductors and lead rainwater pipes have all been targeted. Beyond the replacement of the metal itself, criminals often cause damage to other parts of the roof causing leaks and other issues.

The level of risk a church can face varies and we recommend taking precautions seriously.


The presence of scaffolding on any building can seriously compromise general security. Insurance policies will normally exclude theft of external metal (usually from roofs) when scaffolding is erected.

At Methodist Insurance, we may be able to provide cover if your church can meet the requirements detailed in our scaffolding checklist.

Important security measures

Security marking

SmartWaterUsing a Methodist Insurance approved forensic property marker, such as SmartWater, is a condition of your Church Shield insurance cover. You must:

  • Paint at least a fraction of each metal surface with a forensic property marker. This leaves a unique code on the metal so it is traceable back to the church. 
  • Display the signs provided to help deter potential thieves. 
  • Register your kit with the supplier; it can also help with an investigation should a theft still occur.

Engage with your local community

Encourage neighbours, employees and volunteers to keep watch for any suspicious activity around the church. Anything noticed should be reported to the police immediately.

Depending on your individual circumstances, we may be able to increase your theft of metal cover. You will need to:

  • install a Methodist Insurance approved roof security system 
  • apply a forensic marking system approved by us (such as SmartWater) to external metal 
  • display signage and register it with the provider. 

You can call us on 0345 606 1331 for more information.

Install an electronic roof security system

Some high-risk churches with significant amounts of lead roofing have installed roof alarms to help protect external metal. Alarms can be virtually invisible and large roof areas can be protected cost-effectively.

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