Knightswood Estate residents in South Hornchurch call for tougher action over lead thefts

Householders in South Hornchurch are calling for action over lead thefts after two garages on the Knightswood Estate were gutted in the same week – bringing the total of metal raids on the estate to eight in the last six months and costing residents thousands of pounds.

Robert Norton, whose garage had its lead flashing stripped last week, said he would have to fork out more than �1,000 to have the roof repaired – and that three of his neighbours’ garages had yet to be fixed.

“It’s a new estate,” he said. “It was very quiet and there were no problems around here until all of a sudden we had one garage that had all the lead stolen off – and then there was an escalation.”

Mr Norton added he would replace the lead with concrete in case new metal attracted the thieves again.

“It seems a couple of people are doing it in broad daylight,” said the 54-year-old, who manages accounts for a building maintenance firm. “There are no patrols and no community officers. I want the police to investigate this a bit further. There’s only one scrap yard around the area – surely they could pay a visit to them.”

A police spokesman said only three of the crimes had been reported. “Officers do undertake patrols,” he said, “but, with 44 square miles to cover, it is not always possible to be everywhere as often as local residents would like.”

Havering police have launched a crackdown on metal thefts called Operation Ferrous, which is seeing them visit every scrap yard in the borough. Operation Ferrous has already led to the closure of one scrap yard, as well as 300 fines and 20 arrests.