Prolific night-time thieves have struck at 32 homes across the St Matthew’s area of Preston.
Police said in the space of four days, lead flashing was stolen from the roofs of 32 houses on Shakespeare Road, Tennyson Road and Thompson Street.
Det Sgt Martin Pearson of Preston CID said: “It’s very unusual for this many lead thefts to occur in the same area in a short period of time.
“The residents would not know they have fallen victim until they started to get leaks from the roof, and that is what has happened here.
“The community beat manager has been contacted by a resident, and then we’ve had someone up on the roof, to discover the true extent of the crime.”
He added: “The likelihood is that it’s not somebody local to the area, and they would have needed some form of transport to take the lead away.”
Det Sgt Pearson said that it was difficult to determine the exact amount of lead that has been taken, but that it was “a reasonable amount”.
The thefts occurred overnight between Saturday, August 17 and Wednesday, August 21.
Significant rises in metal theft were observed during 2006-2007 in the UK - especially in the North West - thought to be connected to the growing demand for scrap because of industrialisation in India and China.
Police Review have said that metal theft is now the fastest growing crime in the UK, with the annual damage to industry estimated at £360m.
Roofs, manhole covers and statues have all been increasingly targeted, with most of the time metal being sold for scrap, but occasionally used by the thieves themselves.
Metal thefts more usually affect churches in the Lancashire area, with almost 30 claims from churches within the Diocese of Blackburn last year following lead thefts, costing £40,000.
Anybody with any information about the house lead thefts can call PC Rachel Wilson at Preston CID on 01772 209756 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at Crimestoppers-uk.org.
No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.