Roofer Tom Berge received an eight month suspended prison sentence by Sutton Magistrates yesterday (Wednesday 11th March) after stealing more than £100,000 worth of lead from buildings in Sutton and surrounding boroughs.
Berge, aged 27, who gave an address in court of Rosehill, Sutton, ran a sophisticated and audacious operation with a number of accomplices stealing from churches, schools, grade ‘A’ listed buildings, businesses and residential properties.
In a crime spree that ran from September 2008 to February 2009, Berge made £44,500 from selling a total haul of 44.5 tonnes of lead stolen from
His preparation was meticulous. Berge would:
• go equipped with ladders to climb up onto roofs to steal the lead and used ropes to abseil down to make a speedy getaway
• access Google Earth on the internet to check for grade ‘A’ listed buildings with lead roofs. He knew that these buildings would be required to replace like-for-like if lead was stolen from the roof
• steal a Corsa or Astra near a target property before the raid so he could use the vehicle to transport his ill-gotten gains.
The properties hit included Sutton High School for Girls and the Honeywood Museum, Carshalton, where £10,000 worth of lead was removed from the roof of each building. Another building hit was Croydon Parish Church where the theft of lead from its roof let in the rain and caused extensive damage.
Police arrested Berge for going equipped to steal after he was stopped by uniformed officers on 7th February 2009. He was interviewed by Sutton detectives when he admitted his catalogue of more than 30 offences from buildings in Sutton, Croydon, Kingston, Wimbledon and in Surrey.
Detective Sergeant Chris Grant, of Sutton CID, commented: “He was a prolific offender up until the time he was arrested. Since then our crime figures for theft of lead have reduced significantly.”
At Sutton Magistrates Court on 11th March, Berge pleaded guilty to the following charges:
• Stealing lead to the value of £3,200 on 13th November 2008 from Employment Plus, Marshalls Road, Sutton
• Going equipped to steal on 7th February 2009 at the junction of Devonshire Road and Butterhill, Wallington
• Taking a Vauxhall Astra without the owner’s consent on 1st February 2009 at Norman Road, Sutton.
He was sentenced to:
• four months for going equipped;
• four months for lead theft (to run consecutively)
• four months for taking and driving away a vehicle (to run concurrently)
The total was eight months in prison suspended for two years. In addition, he will be subject to a curfew from 7pm-7am and is to do 100 hours unpaid work. He was ordered to pay £100 costs.
Berge asked for 33 similar offences to be taken into consideration.
Offences of stealing lead admitted by Berge include:
St Mary’s Church, Church Road, Wallington, (28/09/08)
St Elpheges Church, Stafford Road, Wallington, (10/10/08)
Honeywood Museum, Honeywood Walk, Carshalton (16/10/08)
Hackbridge Infant School, Hackbridge Road, Wallington (06/11/08)
Holy Trinity Church, Maldon Road, Wallington (07/11/08)
St Barnabas Church, St Barnabas Road, Sutton (19/11/08)
Wallington Methodist Church, Beddington Gardens, Wallington (19/01/09)
Wallington Library, Shotfield (24/01/09)
1st Church of Christ Scientists, Cheam Road, Sutton (20/01/09 – 25/01/09)
Croydon Parish Church, Church St, Croydon (30/12/08)
Copley Clark & Bennett, 36 Grove Road, Sutton (16/01/09)
Sutton High School for Girls (31/01/09)