Re-use -
A Solution
For Modern

Church Street
Lower Weedon


This article appeared in Issue 117 February 2000 Page 146
Cock A Snook At The Thieves
Neville Griffiths has his own unique solution to the problem of architectural theft, and has some handy suggestions on how you can thwart the robbers.
At the salvage yard we have a unique burglar deterrent - Butlin the guard cock. He's known to all as the keeper of the staddle stones and will attack anyone who tries to steal one. People have been seen running down the yard with Butlin in hot pursuit. The only trouble is that he can't differentiate between a customer and a thief. and I'm beginning to wonder if it might be time for the pot!

Sadly, and as many owners have found to their cost, anything in their houses or gardens which is capable of being moved, even with difficulty, probably will be. It could be decorative lawn edging, a brass door knob, even the door itself. Indeed thieves have been known to turn up at houses while their owners are away and strip out all the fixtures and fittings down to the skirting. Sometimes, the thefts are to order, or they may be taken for stock by unscrupulous dealers.

Many blame these thefts on the increased awareness of the value of old building materials that has been caused by TV programmes about 'doing up' properties. - The finger's also pointed at salvage yards. They say if these didn't exist then people wouldn't steal because they'd have nowhere to sell their ill- gotten gains. I don't see it that way at all. I reckon that architectural and antiques dealers play a positive role. We are the real borrowers, recycling the past - keeping social history alive.

Besides, architectural theft's been rife for centuries. It's no fluke that there are gaps in Hadrian's Wall and Henry VIII helped himself and generations of local builders by sacking monasteries and flogging off the stonework. Times haven't changed and there is a ready market for architectural items. Needless to say, although I recycle the kind of items that are regularly stolen, nothing comes into my yard other than legitimately.

Take that doyenne of the nicked salvage world, the staddle stone. Don't assume that because it's heavy it can't be stolen. At upwards of 200, it's a good target. A couple of determined robbers can lift this dead weight into a truck and spirit it away with barely a sound. But you can do things to keep your property safe.

If the stones are outside your boundary fence. bring them in if at all possible. Take dimensions and photographs and note birthmarks - every stone is different and has individual marks from the mason's chisel - so you'll be able to trace them if they are stolen. And make sure that stones are included on your insurance policy. To make it harder for the thieves, drill a hole in the top of the base stone and insert a piece of steel fixing it in place with a strong adhesive and engraving your postcode into it. Alternatively, you could always borrow Butlin!

A more imaginative approach for the purist and the romantic