A THIEF who stripped lead from church roofs across the home counties and sold it to scrap merchants has been jailed for seven years and six months.

Petre Romeo Cazan, of Edmonton, north London, would target isolated churches at night, climbing up a drainpipe and throwing his haul to be loaded into a waiting vehicle.

The 42-year-old caused more than £186,000 of damage across seven churches between June and October in 2016, Cambridgeshire Police said.

He was arrested in November 2016.

Police found phone data, Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras and DNA from a cigarette end linked him to the crimes.

He denied the offences but was convicted at trial at Cambridge Crown Court of seven counts of theft and seven of criminal damage, the force said.

Cazan was jailed on Friday.

He had targeted: All Saints Church in Marsworth, Hertfordshire; All Saints Church in East Meon, Hampshire; All Saints Church in Milton Ernest, Bedfordshire; St Laurence Church in Foxton, Cambridgeshire; St Michael's Church in Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire; Holy Trinity Church in Meldreth, Royston, Hertfordshire; and St John the Baptist Church in Cottered, Hertfordshire.

Detective Constable Tom Nuttall, of Cambridgeshire Police, said: "This type of crime is not victimless and we treat it extremely seriously due to the devastation it can have on churches and the local communities."