LEAD thieves have struck at the home of a former Sunderland MP.
Ex-Government Minister Chris Mullin said his and his neighbours’ houses have been hit in a series of raids.
The incidents are the latest in a spate of metal thefts on Wearside.
The most recent raid saw lead stripped from the roof of St Joseph’s Church in Millfield, causing more than £2,000 of damage.
Mr Mullin, who represented Sunderland South in Parliament until last year, said: “They’re doing thousands of pounds worth of damage, and it’s clear that they think they’re immune because they’re coming back night after night.
“They will keep coming back until they’re caught, so I hope the police will make an effort to look for them.”
Mr Mullin, 63, said he found a piece of lead twisted from his porch, at his house in St Bede’s Terrace, near the city centre.
“I wondered what had happened, then I realised someone had tried to rip it off,” he said.
“Three other houses in the street have been targeted overnight.
“They failed at my house, it was just an attempt, but there must have been about 20 incidents in the past week or so.”
He added: “They seem to be systematically working their way through the neighbourhood, and they’re acting with impunity.”
Mr Mullin said a number of churches had been targeted by the lead thieves, but the attacks on residential properties were particularly audacious.
“Churches are easier because people aren’t there all the time and don’t always live close by,” he said.
“They’d need a big ladder, and they’d be putting it on the steps, which is risky, so they’d need two people – and probably a van nearby.”
He added: “It’s all to do with the price of lead, and I think at the moment it’s high.
“I’m not sure how much the lead on these houses is worth, but repairing the damage costs thousands.”
The incident at Mr Mullin’s home happened on April 18, and the three other properties were targeted last Thursday.
Acting Inspector Lee Butler, of Sunderland Police said: “A rise in the price of metal has seen a rise in the number of incidents being reported to police, as thieves think it is easy to sell on at scrap metal dealers.
“Over the past few months we have carried out a number of operations targeting metal thieves, which has seen a number of people arrested.
“We have worked with scrap metal dealers to remind dealers them of their responsibilities, to make sure the origin of the metal they are being sold is genuine and to help us identify any metal that could’ve been stolen, as well as those who are selling it on.”