A SPATE of lead thefts in Stockbridge is causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

High Street shops, Stockbridge Town Hall, St Peter’s Church and even the town’s power supply have been targeted in multiple thefts from building exteriors that have been ongoing since September.

Police confirmed 12 reports have been made officially of lead theft in the High Street area and while there is an open investigation, the repeated nature of the crime has left some of those targeted exasperated.

One victim, who wished not to be identified, told The Advertiser lead was stolen from by his open bedroom window while he was sleeping about one metre away. The stolen material cost £500 to replace.

He said: “Every other day you hear something about this and you walk past a building where lead has been stolen or attempted to be. You are on edge. You check that even the gates are still there.

“It is crazy, as if it’s never going to stop, what will happen when they run out of lead? What next? Breaking into our houses? And there is a lot of older people in Stockbridge and it’s a more trusting place because it is safe.

"Police don’t appear to have progressed on any enquiry.

“It just makes you feel that we live in a lawless society and that you can steal from people’s homes with no repercussions.”

Stockbridge’s Italian boutique store La Bella Donna has confirmed it has fallen victim twice, with replacements costing £2,000.

Shop owner Jane Young said: “Luckily my building isn’t Grade-II listed and I haven’t replaced it with lead but with a fibre glass equivalent. It was stressful; we had water pouring into the newly decorated shop down the walls, it was very, very inconvenient.

“The police were sympathetic but they haven’t done anything or got back in contact and there’s no sign of police patrols.

“It seems to be if the thieves know the lead will be replaced, they will come back and take it. Everybody on the High Street is very aware of it.”

Town hall bosses also confirmed roof repairs will be in excess of £2,000 after thieves targeted the building’s single storey extension twice, but the committee has been pleased with police inquiries.

Town Hall committee chair Kim Candler said: “The scrap value of the lead stolen I understand to be one or two hundred pounds. It really is a very destructive activity for very little gain.

“The police are taking the whole business very seriously and are accumulating evidence, I understand that their enquiries are progressing positively.

“As a Grade-II listed building we think we should replace the lead this time and install CCTV.

“Hopefully the police will catch the miscreant soon. If it happens again, we shall consider other options.”

The Greyhound pub is another multiple incident victim, suffering theft three times over the last few months, and lead theft from the town’s power operator Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks caused a night time blackout down the high street for about nine hours.

A spokesperson said: “It has been reported to the local police and it is currently being investigated but we would like to stress the knock-on effect this tampering of power supply has, in terms of danger to our customers, our engineers and those actually involved in the tampering themselves.”

“Our number one priority is safety so it is a concern.”

The powercut affected stores such as Co-Op in High Street which lost £3,500 in turnover, and £4,000 in stock due to the electricity fault.

A Hampshire Constabulary statement said: “We can confirm we are investigating a series of thefts where lead has been taken from the exterior of buildings in Stockbridge.

“Since Monday 11 September, we have received 12 reports of theft, with many of them taking place overnight and at buildings in High Street. These incidents are being treated as linked.

“An investigation is underway and officers are following lines of enquiry.

“Officers have also carried out targeted patrols in Stockbridge at the relevant times, when resources have allowed.”

The force advises home owners to fit energy efficient security lighting, keep items such as ladders, tools and wheelie bins stored safely away, lock side gates, check fencing regularly and trim overgrown hedges and plants to improve surveillance.