Three Midland crooks have been jailed for a £2million crime spree which saw lead stripped from churches across the UK.
They were part of a gang who stripped tonnes of metal from 36 Grade 1 and Grade 2 churches.
Many of the churches targeted are still struggling to find the money to replace the stolen lead.
Four members of the gang appeared at Lincoln Crown Court yesterday, Wednesday January 6, and were sentenced to a combined total of 22 years and seven months.
Paul Buica, 25, of George Street, Birmingham, admitted 16 thefts and was jailed for six years.
Laurentiu Sucea, 38, of the same address, admitted 13 thefts and received a six and a half years term.
Mihai Birtu, 24, of Port Street, Evesham, pleaded guilty to 14 thefts and was given a three years and seven months sentence.
Constantin Motescu, 32, of Stebbings, Sutton Hill, Telford, admitted 23 charges of theft and was jailed for six and a half years .
The crimes happened between May 2018 and March 2020. The amount they made from scrapping the lead was said to have been much lower than the cost to the churches.
Det Chief Insp Jon Shield, from Lincolnshire Police, who headed the investigation, said the men stole from churches across the country.
Their crimes had left already cash-strapped churches struggling to repair the damage, he said.
“Some of the church congregations are still struggling to find the funds to repair the damage and restore their significant historical buildings which means so much to them as well as the local communities they serve,” he said.
“The vast majority of these churches will have had insurance in place, but the insurance only covers a small part of the costs so congregations have been left to foot the remainder of the bill.
“It is still unclear what these defendants spent the money they gained from these thefts on and investigations into this is still ongoing.
“Some of the buildings are hundreds of years old so these men have potentially destroyed hundreds of years of our heritage.”