Portsmouth blacksmith camps out after burglars take lead from roof

ON GUARD Blacksmith Lucille Scott is angry after thieves stole lead from her forge
ON GUARD Blacksmith Lucille Scott is angry after thieves stole lead from her forge
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BLACKSMITH Lucille Scott camped out in her workshop in a bid to catch crooks who stole lead from the historic building’s roof.

The 42-year-old, who runs blacksmith firm Iron Maid from The Old Pumping Station, in Eastney, slept for two nights in her workshop after thieves snatched lead from the ridges of the slate roof in the early hours of last Wednesday.

The metal, used on the roof to protect it from water leaks, was taken from two out of five ridges.

Lucille stayed overnight at the council-owned site, in Henderson Road, last Thursday and Friday to see if she could catch would-be lead thieves coming back for more.

Lucille, who lives in Henderson Park, described her fear after being awoken on the first night.

She said: ‘It must have been four in the morning, when suddenly I was awoken by what I can describe as scuffles on the roof.

‘I wanted to tell myself it must have been a fox or a noise coming from pipes inside the building instead.

‘In any case I was frightened. I didn’t want to go outside and give away that someone was in the area.’

When Lucille ventured outside a few hours later, she discovered crooks had struck again – but this time at the Old Pump House, owned by the Boleh Trust, next door.

Lead from two of the building’s roof ridges had been taken in the second raid of the week.

She said: ‘I wish I had done something sooner. I can only assume now that they were running along my roof to get away.

‘The thieves stayed away on Friday and they haven’t been back since.’

Asset Management Service, which looks after Portsmouth City Council buildings, is due to put temporary waterproof sheets over both roofs today. The council is considering replacing the stolen lead with a non-metal alternative to detract thieves attracted to its market value.

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson is calling for the law to be changed over metals being sold at scrapyards. He said: ‘This is a serious issue which involves a pretty simple solution.

‘The government needs to make sure that people provide proof of obtaining the metal beforehand with a written receipt, and money transactions need to be eradicated. At the moment it’s no questions asked, cash in hand. It’s an invitation for people to break the law.’

Sergeant Stuart Boyd, of Eastney Safer Neighbourhoods Team said: ‘Anyone with any information in relation to this incident should get in touch with us.

‘Thieves often try to sell or dispose of stolen metal very quickly. I would like to appeal to anyone with information about metal theft to contact the police as soon as possible to help us reunite stolen items with their owners.’