Britain’s most prolific church lead theft gang which targeted two religious buildings in the Market Rasen area have been jailed for a total of 20 years, Lincoln Crown Court heard.
The Lincoln-based gang - which left the Church of England with a £1million repair bill - struck at 20 churches across the East Midlands including St Peter and St Laurence at Wickenby and All Saints’ at Holton-cum-Beckering.
They were caught after police stopped a vehicle laden-with stolen lead on the A46 near Lincoln.
DNA evidence left behind on a cigarette butt and a beer can at one church and evidence from automatic number plate recognition cameras also led to some of the gang being identified.
The gang netted almost £70,000 from selling the stolen lead during a nine month period in 2011.
Andrius Cereska, 30, of Laceby Street, Audrius Kvedavas, 30, of Maple Street and Tadas Andruska, 36, of Roman Pavement,admitted conspiring to steal lead between January and September 2011 and were each jailed for four years.
Vidas Andruska, 34, of Roman Pavement, was found guilty of the same charge after a trial and jailed for seven years.
Vitalijus Vilkys, 27, of Nelson Street, admitted handling stolen lead and was sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for two years and 180 hours community punishment.
Nerijus Razma, 23, of Manby Street, pleaded guilty to one theft charge and jailed for 22 months.