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Lead roof thief eyeballed targets on Google Earth

Swiped £100k of Pb in six months

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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 during his six-month, internet aided lead-lifting spree. A friend of the light-fingered perp, from Sutton, explained: "He sat at home and scoured south London for targets with just a few clicks of the mouse. He homed in on all sorts of buildings - many of them listed.

"He could tell the lead roofs apart on Google Earth as they were slightly darker than normal."

Having identifed a suitable property, Berge then climbed onto its roof, stripped the lead, abseiled down and offloaded his haul to scrap metal dealers.

He was cuffed in February and last week pleaded guilty to theft at Sutton magistrates court. As well as the suspended sentence, Berge copped 100 hours community service and a curfew for his trouble.

Detective Sergeant Chris Grant, who led the lead investigation, said: "He was a prolific offender up until the time he was arrested. Since then our crime figures for theft of lead have reduced significantly." ®

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