A homeless man who clambered onto an Alfreton roof to strip lead contacted police after his crime.
Liam Clarke, 21, admitted the offence after damaging a telephone kiosk before dialling police and asking to be taken to jail, a court was told.
Derby Crown Court heard the metal worth £100 was taken from the Catholic Church on Nottingham Road, Alfreton, between January 1 and April 6. He also admitted taking radiators from an empty house on Ash Court, Alfreton, and damaging the phone box.
Judge David Pugsley said: “Lead stealing from church roofs is almost becoming an epidemic in this county and in Nottingham.
“Theft of lead from church roofs needs a deterrent element in the sentence because it is widespread.”
Although the lead was worth £100, the judge said repair and replacement at the building could have cost far more than that. Clarke was sentenced to a year in custody.
Alex Wolfson, prosecuting, said Clarke was arrested after damaging the phone box at 1.30am on May 31 near the police station on Midland Street, Long Eaton. “He told police he admitted damaging the telephone box because he wanted to go back to prison.”