POLICE have blasted scrap metal thieves who stole a lightning conductor from a church.
The 30ft-long copper conductor was stolen from Our Lady of the Rosary Church, in Westway, Peterlee.
It is the second time this year that the church has been targeted, with lead taken from its roof in March.
However, police recovered the abandoned metal and it was returned to the church.
Police and parishioners are hoping for similar luck in getting the lightning conductor back and having the thief caught.
The conductor takes any voltage from potential lightning strikes down to the floor, rather than through the building, preventing any injuries to people inside.
Father Frank McCullagh from the church said: “I’m brassed off.
“We are just one of many churches targeted and we happen to have been targeted twice in a year.
“I am not surprised with the value of metal rising.”
Acting Inspector Stephen Hawkes, of Peterlee Police, said: “This has caused a potential danger to people and there is also the cost to replace the conductor to consider.
“Patrols are ongoing and we have continuing initiatives and operations targeting those responsible for metal thefts. We have had some positive results and numerous arrests.
“But the problem continues so we rely on the public and hope they provide information to us.”
The theft is said to have taken place some time between 10pm on July 29 and 10am on July 31.
Anyone with information is urged to call Peterlee Police on 0345 6060365 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.