Published on Monday 20 February 2012 15:25
A TOTAL of £45,000 worth of lead has been stolen from the roofs of schools in the North Eastern Education and Library Board’s area over the past nine months, a report has revealed.
In East Antrim thieves struck a staggering 34 times to steal lead worth over £30,000, with several schools being targeted on more than one occasion.
“We should be asking for the cooperation of residents who live in the vicinity of schools to immediately report any unlawful activity they see,” East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs said.
“I would also call for legislation to be introduced to control scrap dealers who are buying the stolen lead. We need to widen awareness of what’s going on and the police should be constantly checking scrap yards to prevent the sale of stolen scrap metal.”
In Carrick, Downshire School was targeted twice in 18 months.
“One of the thefts was in the Autumn term in 2010 and another in the summer of 2011; we lost an estimated 100 metres worth as a result of the two incidents,” said Downshire principal Jacqueline Stewart.
“We didn’t discover the thefts until there was heavy rain and the roof started to leak in both cases. The first incident was actually caught on CCTV and was investigated by the police.
“The most unfortunate thing is that these thieves are taking valuable resources away from the budget that could be put towards other areas of education. Instead, resources are being put towards repair of vandalism, school classrooms are having to be sectioned off for a few days, and cleaning staff are having to do a lot of extra work to clean up the leaks that result.”
A NEELB spokesperson added: “In the majority of cases the Board has used lead substitute to replace the stolen material when repairing the damaged school properties,”
“All incidents were reported to the PSNI at the time the lead theft was discovered by the schools.”
As the TIMES reported earlier this month, Ulidia College, for which NEELB does not have responsibility, has been counting the cost of metal theft following incidents in July last year and last month resulting in £8,000 worth of lead flashing stolen.
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