THIEVES have been targeting churches in Edinburgh with multiple reports of lead being stolen from church roofs.
Broxburn Parish Church in West Lothian has been the main target with three separate thefts with the latest occurring on 11 December.
A builder working in the church discovered the missing lead when he was repairing damage caused by a previous theft of lead from the roof.
It is the third occasion lead has been stolen from Broxburn Parish Church roof and the acts have caused significant damage to the church building.
Police have said the stolen lead can be identified by a chemical solution known as Smart Water which is used to mark industrial items of value in order to deter theft.
It is unknown when the last theft occurred, however the roof had been treated with Smart Water, a chemical marking solution, beforehand. It is virtually impossible to remove Smart Water and it will still reside on stolen lead.
The second church which has been targeted is SS John Cantius & Nicholas RC Church, also in West Lothian.
The theft was also discovered on 11 December when water damage was noticed in the building. It is also unknown when this theft took place.
Due to the similarities in the nature of these thefts, and the proximity of the churches involved, police believe the incidents may be linked. They are now appealing for any witnesses who may have seen either incident take place to come forward.
Chief Inspector Paul Cameron, Area Commander for West Lothian, said: “These are despicable crimes, which have caused serious damage and cost to both churches.
“It is also particularly upsetting that these crimes have occurred during the festive season, when these churches are at their busiest. The consequences of these crimes have also been exacerbated due to the poor weather conditions we are currently experiencing.
“We are calling on anyone who may have seen people on the roof of either church to contact Police Scotland immediately.
“One positive aspect of this investigation is that the roof at Broxburn Parish Church had been treated with Smart Water. We believe this will extensively progress our investigation and that it is only a matter of time before we catch the culprits and bring them to justice.