Churches in Somerset and North Somerset were among those targeted by four men who were this week jailed for nationwide thefts of lead.

The four defendants stripped tonnes of lead from a mixture of Grade 1 and Grade 2 churches between May 2018 and March 2020 - costing 36 churches a combined total of almost £2.1million. 

The four men were sentenced at Lincoln Crown Court on Wednesday, January 6.

  • Constantin Motescu, 32, of Stebbings, Sutton Hill, Telford, admitted 23 charges of theft.
  • Paul Buica, 25, of George Street, Birmingham, admitted 16 thefts.
  • Mihai Birtu, 24, of Port Street, Evesham, admitted 14 thefts.
  • Laurentiu Sucea, 38, of George Street, Birmingham, admitted 13 thefts.

Motescu and Sucea were each jailed for six and a half years.

Buica was jailed for six years and Birtu was jailed for three years and seven months.

They had previously admitted a total of 36 offences which involved stripping tonnes of lead from churches across the country between May 2018 and March 2020.

These offences included thefts from churches in Barrington, Bradford on Tone, Bridgwater, Clevedon, Glastonbury, Goathurst, Ilton, Pitminster, South Petherton and Wellington, with some targeted more than once. The thefts caused a combined total of more than £1million in losses and damage.

Detective chief inspector Martyn Cannon is from Operation Remedy, the Avon and Somerset team targeting burglary, drug and knife crime.

He said: “Avon and Somerset officers, including those from Operation Remedy, worked with colleagues in other areas, including Lincolnshire Police who led this successful prosecution.

“This court result shows how well police services collaborate nationally to bring criminals to justice.

"These buildings are of great spiritual and historic significance to our communities.

"The damage caused a great sense of loss and in many cases an ongoing financial burden for refurbishment of the buildings.”