SECURITY has been criticised at historic Newstead Abbey after it became the latest high-profile victim of thieves targeting valuable metal.
Criminals struck on two nights earlier this month and stole distinctive and irreplaceable lead-downpipes and the square brackets holding the lead in place.
Then, last week, £2,000-worth of lead was taken from the roof of the abbey, which is the Dispatch district’s top tourist attraction and the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron.
Ken Purslow, chairman of Newstead Abbey Byron Society (NABS), said: “These thieves must have been laughing all the way to the scrapyard.
“The abbey is isolated. It’s very dark up there at night.
“They came prepared and knew exactly what they were doing. You would need at least two people to handle the lead pipes, and a vehicle to take it all away.”
Mr Purslow claimed there would be worse to come now thieves realised the valuable materials had little protection.
“My real fear is that someone throws a brick through a window, gets no response and goes inside and has their pick,” he said.
Mr Purslow feels that unless owner Nottingham City Council was willing to put further security measures in place, there was “going to be nothing left for visitors to see”.
Now site bosses are desperately seeking the return of the lead and are appealing for locals to keep their eyes peeled for the stolen material.
Ron Inglis, the city council’s service manager for museums, said the council was working with scrap dealers and police to recover the lead.
“The lead bears distinctive symbols of hexagons and Stars Of David, as well as lion heraldic emblems with axes,” said Mr Inglis. “Each piece is fully documented.
“We are very saddened by this loss and the damage to an historic property of this nature. Unfortunately, this is a problem that many stately homes and churches are facing around the country.
“The city council takes the security of its historic buildings very seriously and a variety of security measures is in place at Newstead Abbey, including a caretaker on site at all times.
“All accessible lead has been removed from the abbey since these thefts, and temporary, plastic downpipes put in place to protect the building.”
A police investigation has been launched, with detectives reviewing CCTV footage.
Anyone with information should ring the police on 101 or call the free and confidential Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555111.