Thieves strike local landmark

Toll Bar House
Toll Bar House

Story: Lisa Harrison & Richard Belbin, Photo: Lisa Harrison

Winnie Bentley has lived at the Toll Bar House at the top of Burngreave Road for 32 years. Built in 1836, the house is a Grade II listed building. As with many other old buildings, there was lead on the roof, but in July 2007, for the first time in the house’s history, this lead was stolen.

Mrs Bentley arranged for the roof to be fixed, but the day after repairs were complete, thieves struck again. In all, lead has been stolen from her roof three times in the past few months. Mrs Bentley contacted the Council to request a camera be put up to help deter thieves. She explained, “If they can put cameras on Burngreave Road for catching people speeding, they should put one up near my house to catch people pinching!”

She then contacted English Heritage to find out whether she could remove the lead and replace it with coping stones, which are not attractive to thieves. The application was eventually granted, and there is now no lead remaining on the roof. This should prevent thieves from striking again, since there is now nothing of value attached to the house.

Lead theft has increased in recent times due to soaring demand in China and India driving the prices up.

Police advise anyone who owns a property with lead on the roof to install CCTV and ensure they have effective lighting. The police are concerned about the recent increase in crimes of this type and will be visiting scrap yards to try to find out who is buying and selling stolen lead.

Mrs Bentley still loves her house despite everything: “A lot of local people love this house so it begs belief that anyone would do this. For many people this house is Pitsmoor – it gives a sense of coming home. It’s like the whole community is being robbed.”

Jerry Elsmore, of Rock Street, also had the lead stripped from his bay window by thieves a few weeks ago: “I was in at the time, and although I heard some noise, I thought it was from the building work next door. It was only later that I saw ladders left at the back of my house.”

Jerry's neighbours saw the thieves, but assumed they were legitimate workmen. “The police told me they had hundreds of similar call outs, a vast increase over recent months. But there isn't much they can really do, except wait to catch them going to dispose of the goods at a scrap yard.”

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The content on this page was added to the website by Kate Atkinson on 2007-11-30 10:42:19.
The content of the page was last modified by Lisa Harrison on 2007-12-17 13:18:47.

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