SWINDON Police are calling for all schools in the town to be on their guard for metal thieves with lead flashing used on buildings' roofs targeted by the criminals.

As the Easter Holidays approach, police are urging all schools to review their security and the crime prevention measures they have taken. 

Acting Inspector Aileen Conway who covers the East Swindon Policing Sector said: “There has been a series of lead thefts the past week. The cost implications go far beyond the simple scrap value of the lead. When you take account of the repair costs and disruption to the school business, I would estimate the impact could run to tens of thousands of pounds in each case.”

There are products available which can mark the lead with an identifiable code which forensically links the metal back to the owners. This acts as an effective deterrent to criminals intent on stealing it.

“The simple application of a forensic solution security product makes the metal instantly identifiable," added said Inspector Conway. "Not only will thieves struggle to sell it on, but when we recover the metal we significantly increase our chances of a successful prosecution, allowing us to put the perpetrators of this destructive and expensive crime in check.”

Swindon Police have confirmed they currently have one man in custody for questioning in relation to the recent offences. They are confident further arrests will follow and they are issuing a warning that to thieves that they have a specialist team who monitors metal thefts under the national banner of Operation Tornado.

Police are offering the following crime prevention advice to schools and businesses:

• Check that all CCTV systems on the premises are serviceable and recording when the school or business is left unattended during the evenings, weekends and Easter holidays. 

• Ensure that CCTV recording capacity does not run out during the holiday and if necessary, have a member of staff attend and reset it periodically. 

• Review and where necessary improve or install dusk-till-dawn lighting systems.

• Check perimeter fencing and repair weaknesses and holes. 

• Make it harder for thieves to access the lead by storing away all ladders and other structures such as water butts, wheelie bins and picnic tables. 

• Lock all vehicle access points to grounds. 

• Invest in a forensic marking product. These are available on the internet or can be applied professionally. Check out http://www.securedbydesign.com which is endorsed by the Association of Chief Police Officers. 

• Talk to your neighbours, act watchfully for each other, share information and support each other.

• Late night dog walkers who pass by a school can listen out for unusual noises or a vehicle parked out of place. Report anything suspicious to the police straight away but do not put yourself at risk by exploring this yourself. 

• Schools might consider getting small groups of parent volunteers together who can periodically walk the school grounds during the holidays to act as a deterrent and report anything suspicious or out of place to the police.

If you have any information which you think will assist the police in their investigation of metal thefts, including those recently committed at the schools, you can contact Wiltshire Police on 101. In an emergency, please dial 999.