back to article Lead roof thief eyeballed targets on Google Earth

A builder who used Google Earth to pinpoint lead roofs across south London and subsequently made off with £100k's worth of the valuable metal has been handed an eight-month suspended jail term, the Telegraph reports. Tom Berge, 27, targeted Croydon Parish Church, Honeywood Museum in Carshalton and Sutton High School for Girls …


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  1. Astarte

    Leading Article


    Or should that be 'Lead Article'

    (I won't do it again)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Heh ...

    Prolific ... But released onto the streets to rob some more.

  3. Hedley Phillips

    Why no jail time?


  4. P.Nutt


    He nicks £100,000 worth of gear and get no jail time, Hope the CPS are appealing and tryign to reclaim the money he gotr from the nicked gear (or is he getting to keep that as compensation for the curfew?)

    Mine is the one witht he lead in the pocket.....its to stop harmful mobile radiation, officer......honest

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No jail time???

    How does nicking £100k worth of lead not justify a prison sentence?!! I'm not really seeing the deterent here......

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not too shabby thats £1000 p/h

    so 100 hours community service for £100k

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    > Prolific ... But released onto the streets to rob some more.

    At least he was caught/arrested/charged ... the Church I go to had over £100k damage due to lead being stripped last year and Police seemed to have little interest in it. Ecclesiatical Insurance have tried to stop trade in stolen lead by supplying a special coating that enables the source lead in scrapyards that have been treated to be id-ed ... but Police refuse to do the checks unless they have proof that lead in question is stolen.

    Meanwhile there were a couple of instances of people being found by Police on Church roofs where lead was in process of being stripped but in neither case were they arrested because in one case they said they'd climbed onto the Church roof to "enjoy the view" and in the other case to "escape from a gang who were chasing them".

  8. Matt
    Thumb Down


    he isn't going to jail because its googles fault!

  9. Anonymous Coward

    No jail time because...

    Most of the prisons in this country have lead roofs?

    More likely that they are full up, unable to take any more 'minor' criminals like this one.

  10. Ian Ferguson

    Obvious answer

    Insist that Google blurs out all lead roofs!

  11. Eddy Ito

    Easy fix

    It shouldn't be too hard to correct the problem, lead is a conductor after all. A quick monitoring apparatus can be easily set up with a mild electrical circuit. Now before anyone works themselves into a tizzy, I'm not talking about electrocuting the little buggers, just a simple circuit that has the ability to sense the lead and trigger an alarm in the event someone tries to remove it. It could be as simple as a small current that runs through the lead with the alarm triggering on an open circuit. Alternately build the lead into a capacitor and a simple 555 timer circuit will let you know when to open fire and finally inductive circuits are used all the time to sense cars at traffic lights so there is no reason something similar wouldn't sense the presence, or absence, of lead. Then again, a little electric fence action might just do the trick... just remember, ground the lead, don't let it float.

  12. Matt


    ...but electrocuting them is simpler... and more satisfying.

  13. Andy Bright


    This is my section and I demand to know what the non-IT angle is? Where are the gay flamingos, the hopped-up-on-coke squirrels and the police station cannabis dealers? This sort of thing has no place in Odds and Sods, it's simply a run of the mill, same old story about cockney builders using satellite imagery to steal roof tiles. Happens all the time and simply pours fuel on the Google Earth will destroy us all argument. I can tell you right now that stalkers everywhere are disgusted by this sort of inflammatory journalism.

  14. fluffy
    Thumb Up

    The thing I learned today

    I learned that some buildings in the UK have a roof made out of lead (I guess you folk don't care about groundwater contamination?), and that in the context of a roof, lead is suddenly a precious metal.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this all you learned?

    1) Consider the real consequences of Google Earth.

    2) Google is at least partially liable for crimes such as this (aiding and abetting are going to take on an entirely new meaning in this age)

    3) The potential for Google to become mired in multiple lawsuits as an accomplice to far worse crimes is just a matter of time. Tracking someone's comings and goings have been made extremely easy with this software. (i.e. I know when you aren't home, therefore I will rob your home).

    Cyber-stalking, etc., just use your imagination. The criminals have just gotten started using theirs.

    4) To start truly irritating Google, ask that your property be masked from their database. ;)

  16. Guy


    to be fair, many of these buildings would have been built centuries ago. No-one knew lead was dangerous back then, so groundwater contamination wouldn't have been an issue.

    As the article says, many of the buildings are listed - which to summarize briefly in very simple terms means you can't change them.

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