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The preparation for lifting the domed copper roof and the golden cross in front of the Frauenkirche, Church of Our Lady on June 22, 2004, in Dresden, eastern Germany.

Brazen thieves swipe copper from Que. churches

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CTV News: Genevieve Beauchemin on metal theft
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CTV.ca News Staff

Date: Mon. May. 29 2006 2:50 PM ET

The skyrocketing prices of commodities are being blamed for a rash of copper roof thefts from Quebec City churches.

Thieves working in the dead of night recently made away with sections of roofs, gutters and wiring made of copper from four Quebec City churches.

"It's audacious when you have to use a ladder of 15 or 20 feet to climb up and cut pieces of a roof,'' Rev. Raymond Angers, who oversees two of the churches, told The Canadian Press.

It's believed three men removed the 81-year-old metal from the St-Charles-de-Limoilou and St-Francois-d'Assise churches. Another church was also attacked, along with a former church that had been sold to a funeral home.

While the culprits may be able to sell the copper for a few hundred dollars, the repairs to the churches will total between $35,000 and $50,000, Angers said.

"These people have no respect,'' Angers said, noting insurance deductibles of $2,500 will have to be paid for each of his two churches.

But an official with the Assembly of Quebec Catholic Bishops said the thefts were rare cases.

"We're not paranoid because of a recent case like that,'' Germain Tremblay told the wire agency in Montreal.

"If we see the start of an epidemic of stolen religious objects, we would consider what steps to take. But for the moment there's been no special advice given to parishes."

The theft of commodities aren't unique to Quebec.

Cleveland police said thieves stripped the copper sheating of a half-dome that sits at the four corners of the St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Ohio's oldest Russian Orthodox church.

In Vancouver, thieves have taken off with aluminum ladders, soccer goals and park light fixtures while manhole covers have gone missing in Montreal.

Hydro and cable companies have also reported stolen wiring while metal giants Alcan and Dofasco have also been robbed.

The theft of metal is a longstanding problem, said Len Shaw, executive director of the Canadian Association of Recycling Industries.

"It's a bit crazy at the moment," he said.

"If you show up with a whole roof from a church, somebody should be asking questions.''

But not only does much of the material sold contain no markings, large stashes of stolen metal are usually shipped abroad.

The $85-billion US global scrap metal trade has tripled since 2003 while copper alone has climbed to about $3.71 US per pound.

With files from The Canadian Press

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