Houghton Regis firm’s fury over roof lead theft

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A Houghton Regis firm has slammed the police response after thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused after lead was stolen from its roof.

Item Products in Blackburn Road is counting the cost after heavy rains overnight on Friday (July 20) caused extensive damage to the property.

Unbeknown to the company, thieves had stolen the lead rainwater gulleys from the roof, damaging the tiles around it and leaving the building exposed.

But because the theft happened between the last time it rained and last Friday, police say they cannot help and have just issued a crime number.

MD Julian Cook said the rain had cascaded through two floors, causing damage to their computers and destroying furniture and carpets.

“I am incensed,” he said. “The lead is worth around £600 and the damage to us is around £40,000.

“The police should be doing more, tney were not interested, all they gave us was a crime number.

“I’m completely underwhelmed by the police response, they asked me when I thought the incident took place but they say it has to be narrowed down to a two hour window, they haven’t even been to the scene.

“I will be making an official complaint, they don’t patrol here at all, we’ve not seen a car since we moved here.”

The company, which employs seven people, moved from Luton to Houghton Regis in April when a full survey was carried out of the building.

It now has to have a complete new roof, with a rubber based system replacing the stolen lead, as well as repairs to the interior.

Detective Inspector Andy Southam, from Bedfordshire Police’s dedicated burglary response team, said: “We ask victims to supply CCTV to support our investigation if they have it, but due to resourcing and time constraints, we ask them to narrow it down to a two hour window when the incident occurred before it’s submitted. Similarly, due to other demands faced by the force, it’s not always possible for us to attend an incident in person. We are funded as a rural force, yet face complex challenges usually seen in large metropolitan areas, so have limited resources and are currently facing unprecedented demand.

“On this occasion, the company gave an approximate six-week time frame during which the theft occurred. Staff from our Crime Bureau advised the victim to review the CCTV, and contact us again if the incident was captured so we could review it.

“Because the incident was not witnessed by anyone and there are no known suspects, the investigation has been filed pending any new information coming to light. Bedfordshire Police is committed to tackling burglary and apprehending offenders, so we’d urge anyone with any information about this incident to report it.”

Anyone with information about this incident can submit it, using reference number 40/13253/18, either by calling 101 or by visiting www.bedfordshire.police.uk/report. Alternatively, information can be reported anonymously by calling independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.