Bandits run off with statues, church roofs: it's pricey metal

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The headless body of a Ukrainian poet, night-time raids on railway depots and the theft of priceless works of art. The ingredients of a Cold War thriller?

No, they are the latest victims of a global crime spree targeting metal sculptures, copper cables and even playground slides, as thieves take advantage of soaring metals prices to make a fast buck...

Thefts of metal are not a new phenomenon. The lead roofs of English churches and monasteries were plundered by Henry VIII in the 16th Century and are still a popular target for thieves.

Ecclesiastical Insurance which insures 97 percent of Church of England churches said it paid out 750,000 pounds ($1.45 million) against thefts of church metals -- mostly lead -- in 2006, from virtually nothing in 2005.

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