My Blog

Flag Theft

Hi there!
             I've been trading in Natural York Stone Flags now for over twenty years.
Something that never ceases to surprise me, is how often our customers tell us the same story, over and over again.  I'm talking of course, about those amongst us, who, quite brazen facedly, steal stone flags for a living.
Personally, i've never needed to steal york stone flags.  I've always found that paying a decent price for them, generally keeps me and mine in clover.  Frankly speaking, these stone thieves actually put in more effort than i do and must come out with less to show for their toils than i have ever done!
Still, they (three or four to a van) divvy up and risk imprisonment by breaking into back gardens etc and digging up as many stone flags as they can, from areas throughout the N.W. of England.
Some of the stories i've heard in stone yards over the years, would make you think twice of having stone flags on your premises at all.
They're always interesting, but really cocky stories - gobsmacking and devilish tales of the cheek and gaul required to get away with such a crime.
But what can we do about it?
I'd appreciate your views.......

49 Comments to Flag Theft:

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Roy Vernon on 27 February 2011 15:43
Thanks for the comments Stevie. Theyre bad for business to be sure. Some of them do get caught though. Trouble is, it's easy money, which attracts too many of them out there. Anyway, maybe it's the law we should be criticising here. Maybe it's they who should be as active as the theives? Roy V
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Mrs I Clarke on 02 January 2012 14:09
Just read your blog and thought id add to it. We live in Wigan and have just returned from a christmas holiday. We live in a beautiful cottage, surrounded by equally beautiful stone flags. Upon my return, i was horrified to see that the pathway to my cottage had been lifted and stolen in our absence. I;m now so afraid that they might return,that we have decided to replace them with concrete flags. The flags had been part of our family dwelling for over 200 years and the theft of them has had a shocking affect on us. It's not so much their monetary value, but their value to our family as part of our household. It was a terrible homecoming for us. The police have warned us that the intruders may return and as i say, we are now considering selling the remaining flags.What is the world coming to, when you cant leave your home for fear of one's path being stolen? Terrible times we live in. Truly terrible! Irene Clarke. Wigan.
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Roy Vernon on 02 January 2012 16:35
Sorry to hear that Irene. I hate to say this, but these toe-rags do often turn up for a second bite of the cherry, so as to speak. If,of course, you have got rid of the other flags by the time they do return, they will most probably about turn and move on to the next house of easy prey. It isn't nice what they have put you through and they certainly give the stone flag trade a bad name in doing so. Please be comforted by the fact that we are not all so heartless Irene. I'm here to prove that, should you require my services, either now, or in the future. Roy Vernon
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Tracey Webb on 14 February 2012 23:56
Loved the site Roy. Are you the lad who made a film about lads who steal these slabs? I know one was made in Manchester some time ago. Tracey Webb
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Roy Vernon on 15 February 2012 01:21
Wow! I haven't been called a lad for a long time! Glad you liked the site. Just surprised i didn't set one up years ago. I certainly get a lot of calls from the website, which makes it all worthwhile. Anyway, in answer to your question - Yes! I did help make a film called 'The Van Boys' in 1999. With the help of many personal friends i might add. I still make feature films as it happens. Take a peek at my story on www.royvernon.info - it'll tell you more about what i do etc I'm told it's a decent enough read and I do get a lot of feedback from the general public. Mainly because of it's content. Which means you might be surprised at what you read. Got to ask Tracey - Do i know you? Roy Vernon

Jonny Furnival on 05 June 2012 09:43
Hiya Roy, I've got seven upright slabs of stone in my back yard. I live in Bury. They're a kind of fence and are huge. Do you buy them? Im sure they are stone.
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Roy Vernon on 05 June 2012 14:13
Jonny, In reply my freind, i reckon you're going to struggle to find a buyer for what you have. They are commonly known as garden dividers and represent a very old fashioned form of fencing. Nobody fences with such huge slabs any more. It's all waney lap fencing these days. They cant even be used as flags, because they are as rough on the face of the flag today, as they were when they were erected, probably a hundred years ago or more. It's foot traffic that smoothes out the bumps on stone flags when they are laid on the floor. Trouble with garden dividers' is that they've only had the cats running up them for 100 years. That's certainly not going to smooth your slabs out enough for them to be laid down on the floor. Somebody would trip on them for sure. Sorry i couldn't help you mate! Roy V

Ellie-May Winstone on 18 June 2012 17:55
Helloooooo Roy! Loved the site. Bright, cheerful and informative! Couldn't find whether or not you buy Crazy Paving pieces, or rockery stone though? I'm presuming you don't. Or do you?
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Roy Vernon on 26 June 2012 08:27
Hi Ellie-May, As it happens, the front page of this site does actually say, that we don't buy crazy paving. (It's under the heading 'However, we do not buy....' We don't buy it Ellie-May, because it is essentially broken flagstone. Something that there is an abundance of, on every call we go to. Sorry i can't help you there. Roy V

YorksPerson on 31 July 2012 11:47
Hello Roy , i live in Halifax. his seems to be just outside of your catchment area! I ahev a stone built outhouse/shed type thing in my back yard ( old yorkshire terrace type street) . Its yorkshire stone/old stone ( sorry i dont know the terminology!) . The roof of the outhouse is made of 2 huge and heavy solid stone slabs , one is 3inch thick , the other 4inch. Each slab is over a meter square . is this something you would be interested in ..i have sent pics to your email address with my details , thanks.
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Roy on 15 August 2012 08:13
Hi Yorksperson, I know i've responded to your picture email but for the benefit of other readers with roof flags, here's my response - Like garden dividers, roof slabs have only had the cats running up and down on them. This, unfortunately, doesn't help out with smoothing out the slab, which mostly had a rough and bumpy face to it when laid. Therefore, it would be dangerous to relay a bumpy flag, because somebody may trip up on it. It would seem the UK didnt have our present British Safety Standards all those years ago. Nice to think we've started caring eh? Roy V

jon sigsworth on 12 August 2012 18:49
top bloke is roy,ive had a stone garden divider nicked by the scouse roofers working on the house next door to me in worsley..after speaking to roy,he said its worth fuck all....anyway i hope they enjoy it...scouse roofers with a stil saw beware ,its worth fuck all.i hope it damaged the suspension on your little astravan you put it in....
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Roy on 08 September 2012 07:34
Hi Jon, Well, i don't recall saying 'fuck all' but seeing as you're just trying to vent off and i do recall you being upset, i won't edit it. Anyway, i thought what you wrote had a touch of humour about it. Sorry you've had an upset though mate. Roy Vernon

Roy Vernon on 10 December 2012 10:09
Hi Everybody, Just to give you all the heads up so as to speak, i'm receiving a lot of calls from householders, who are having their stone flags stolen. They are predominantly from the Bolton area and the thefts seem to be concentrating on the Farnworth, Little Lever, Darcy Lever and Radcliffe areas. If you have stone flags and live in these areas, please be more vigilant than before and keep your eye on your property. I've found that in most cases, the theft of the flags is not the main concern. Householders fear the return of these flag theives, particularly as they are unable to be at home all day long. Most thefts are taking place, it seems, between 11pm and 6am. If you are a victim of these crimes, why not leave a message with your feelings etc - You never know who may be reading this blog??? Roy V
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Charlotte on 02 September 2013 21:16
Hi - I interrupted stone thieves at 8am in the morning who were digging up the patio and loading it into a rented van from Bolton. I drive a land rover - so big enough to stand up to the bullys - incensed as I was I blocked them in to stop them driving off with the lot. They tried to escape over the lawn but got the van stuck (as it was so heavy) one of them was arrested. A few hours community service was all he received and 2 months later a load more were taken! Not enough of a deterrent if you ask me and no-one to give you any advice. I am thinking a large log/stone or skip to prevent them parking up or going down a drive.
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Roy on 05 September 2013 19:38
Thanks for your comment Charlotte. So sorry to hear what's been happening. It's an all too familiar story i'm afraid. The trouble with your suggestion of obstructing the driveway with a large log, or chain, or skip as you suggest, is that they are far too unsightly to leave on the driveway or wherever as a deterrent. We shouldn't have to resort to such measures to protect our property etc. As I've said before, we need tougher measures for the thieves....... I've often thought that if only we could arrange a flag theft of the flags belonging to local magistrates and police inspectors, maybe then we'd get something proper done about it???? Bet they wouldn't like it eh Charlotte? Roy V

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