A THIEF who stole half a tonne of lead from the roof of a Braintree bank before dumping it in a wheelie bin has been sentenced.

Richard Brown, 48, has been ordered to complete 130 hours of community work after admitting to theft and assaulting an emergency worker.

Officers caught Brown, of John English Avenue, Braintree, after members of the public reported seeing two men walking on the roof of Barclays, in Bank Street, in the early hours of Friday, June 21.

Shortly afterwards Brown was spotted putting lead into a wheeled bin nearby.

In total, half a tonne of lead had been stolen from the roof.

Brown admitted charges when he appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Saturday, June 29.

On top of the community order, he was must also pay an £85 victim surcharge and £145 in costs.

It comes as residents and businesses owners are being reminded to be vigilant following other thefts across the district.

Essex Police has warned people about a apparent rise in incidents where lead is being stolen from rooftops.

Writing on Facebook, the Braintree team said: “There has been a increase of theft of lead in and around the Halstead, Braintree and Witham areas from both domestic and commercial premises.

“Please be aware and keep an eye out and report any suspicious activities to us.”

Several businesses in Witham were recently targeted with Bright and Sons Solicitors forced to carry out emergency repairs to its roof as heavy rain saw water leak through into its waiting area.

Meanwhile, residents have also been reporting a number of incidents where lead has been stolen.

Anyone with information about any thefts is urged to contact police on 101.