Lead thieves who nicked £2,000 worth of roof metal from a row of buildings could have crippled seafront businesses.
Only the quick work of roofers and the lack of recent rain averted a disaster, according to bosses who could have faced bills for hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Sheets of protective lead have been ripped off, rolled up and left behind on the roof. The owners suspect thieves intended to come back later and finish the job. We could have been in a right mess,” said Steve Blane, manager of the Crown Hotel.
“The rain would have come right through. I just can’t believe it.
“But for the roofer Andy Thornburrow acting so quickly to fibreglass it straight away, it would have been devastation.
“It’s the start of the season for me and I could have had this hanging over me straight away. There’s hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of machinery in these buildings.
“It would have been an absolute disaster “These sort of people are not going to stop.“
Sean O’Hagan, owner of the Crown and other nearby seafront premises, also praised Mr Thornburrow.
”We’ve been lucky with it, it’s a lot more positive story than it could have been,” he said. “The weather’s not been too bad.”
Jonathan Barker from Mitchell’s Brewery, owners of the empty former ‘Office’ bar next door, said their building inspectors had been up to survey the damage.
“It’s a sign of the times,” said Mr Barker. A police spokesman said the theft happened some time between February 14 and April 9.
Buildings affected included the Crown, The Office, Mr O’Hagan’s ice cream and beach goods shop, Print Impressions print shop and the Tivoli bar. There has been a spate of high profile lead thefts in Morecambe in recent years.
Most notably in 2011, thieves stole lead flashing from the nearby Winter Gardens theatre, causing £10,000 worth of damage after torrential rain poured into the Grade II* listed building.
Police are appealing for information about the recent theft. Please call 101 or Crimestoppers free on 0800 555111.