A group of Fife primary schools have been targeted by metal thieves as part of a worrying surge in the crime.
What are believed to be significant amounts of lead were removed from the roofs of both Freuchie and Strathmiglo primary schools at some point between last Friday and Thursday morning, the latest in a number of raids by criminals.
It follows similar thefts from Kettle Primary earlier in the month, as well as from a church in Pittenweem High Street.
Inspector Nicola Black of Police Scotland said that the impact of the crimes was more than just monetary and has warned communities to be aware of any suspicious activity.
She told The Courier: “The theft of lead not only has a financial impact but in the case of the schools it has been disruptive to the children’s learning, as the thefts have occurred from the roof areas resulting in leaks and water damage to the buildings.
“In view of this we are keen to trace those responsible as quickly as possible.
“One of the most effective ways to combat lead theft is for communities to remain vigilant and to let officers know when you suspect a van or lorry of carrying out suspicious manoeuvres at unusual hours of the day and night.”
Buildings across Fife have been targeted by lead thieves in recent years.
Due to a surge in the price of the material, criminals are often endangering their own lives to strip buildings of lead to sell on.
Often these are prominent public buildings such as churches and community halls, although many others have small quantities of lead flashing, with its robust properties ideal for keeping roofs watertight.
The railway network and building sites are also regularly targeted as part of a wider culture of metal theft, that has also seen the price of copper soar in recent years.
Metal Theft Scotland, a body consisting of the national emergency services, energy providers and other high-profile bodies, believes that 1,000 instances of metal theft are taking place each week, weighing in at around 300 tonnes.
Responding to these latest incidents, Louise Playford, service manager of school estates in Fife, said: “We are still assessing the damage as a result of these thefts.
“However, every pound we have to spend on the result of crime like this is a pound that we could have spent on improving our children’s education, whether new resources or upgrading of facilities.
“It’s extremely disappointing that these people are deliberately targeting schools and I’d urge anyone with any information to contact the police.”
Anybody with information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101.
Photo by George McLuskie