A number of churches across Yorkshire are to be fitted with roof alarms in a bid to reduce metal theft.

The alarms are being installed on churches with the most ‘at risk’ roofs and are being paid for by Ecclesiastical, which insures 97% of Anglican churches, at a cost of £500,000.

The company received more than 2,600 metal theft claims for churches across the country in 2011 and said a pilot scheme had shown installing alarms had "significantly" reduced thefts. The diocese of Ripon and Leeds was one of the highest claim areas with more more than 50 claims, costing in excess of £60,000.

All churches in the dioceses of Ripon and Leeds will soon display signs warning criminals of the presence of roof alarms, but details of exactly which churches they will be fitted at are not being revealed, a spokesman for the diocese said. The alarms are virtually undetectable from the ground.

John Coates, Ecclesiastical&#146s Director of Church Insurance, said: "It will make churches a harder target for criminals intent on stripping the nation&#146s heritage of roofing lead for their personal gain."

The scheme is being rolled out across all 42 Anglican dioceses in the UK.