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Smethwick church flooded as lead piping stolen

Sandwell | News | Published:

Metal thieves have flooded a church in the Black Country for the second time after they stole lead piping from a neighbouring property.

Metal thieves have flooded a church in the Black Country for the second time after they stole lead piping from a neighbouring property.

Firefighters from Smethwick fire station were called to The Church of God of Prophecy on Regent Street at 10.35am yesterday and spent over five hours battling floods after they broke out in the basement. The water had threatened to reach electricity mains, but firemen arrived in time to keep water levels down with the use of drainage equipment.

The damage was caused by water pipes being pilfered from a former special needs centre for next door in Sketchley Close, called Rethink, which closed nine months ago.

Granville Gregory, 75, who has been deacon at the church for 30 years, said: "If the electricity had been affected by the water I could not tell you how much this would have cost the church.

"It seems like people do not realise what church is all about. Maybe they steal pipes because they think they can get away with it. It is just a nasty thing to do.

"The one bit of good news is that because the water can be drained away the basement will not be ruined."

The vandals have caused a number of problems in previous months as they continue to prey on the church and the disused building next door, where shutters remain down.

Just four weeks ago metal thieves removed piping from the same care centre, which also caused the church basement to flood.

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And three months ago, the crooks stole copper piping, over 15ft long, which ran outside the church building and fed into the site's gas boiler.

Retired former security worker Mr Deacon added: "We make the church as secure as we can but we cannot do everything.

"We can try as hard as we like but if these thieves want to steal lead they will get over the wall and come anyway."

Before the thefts began, the church had erected metal gates with new padlocks in a bid to keep illegal metal thieves at bay.

After getting past the new security measures to steal the gas piping, the thieves attempted to plug the leaking gas with a lone white tissue pushed into the opening they had left.

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