Crime and Theft of Metal

Contrary to common beliefs, crime is on the increase. Theft of metal, which can be sold for a profit, is prevalent. Lead from roofs, copper of all shapes and sizes and catalytic converters can provide a good return.

Crime is now adversely effecting businesses. A fleet of commercial vehicles can have their exhaust systems tampered with and only find out when the vehicles are attempted to be started. This can not only be expensive to repair as in some cases a complete exhaust system has to be replaced but the deliveries of the day can be put off leaving customers, in some cases, to go elsewhere. The feeling of the Police is that it now more likely to be gangs of Eastern Europeans who are committing these crimes.

There have been two recent changes to legislation to make it harder to sell metal but as usual, this does not appear to have gone far enough and a lot more has to be done to deter these criminals. If you can not sell it you will not steal it.

Metal recycling is a booming industry in the UK, worth over £5 billion annually and employing almost 8,000 people. But in recent years, theft of metal has become a rising concern—thieves steal metal parts and sell them for cash at scrap metal dealers and metal recyclers. It is estimated that metal theft costs the UK over £220 million every year.

There has been an increase in thefts of metal because of the rising market prices of valuable metals. Typical metals targeted by thieves are copper, lead and aluminium; other metals may include brass, zinc, nickel, platinum and bronze. Metals and metal parts are stolen from nearly anywhere.

Common targets include the following:

  • Railways
  • Unoccupied buildings
  • Church roofs and bells
  • Electrical cables
  • War memorials
  • Manhole covers
  • Buildings under construction

In recentl years, laws that affect the sale of metal parts have been enacted. In late 2012, cash payments were banned in England and Wales, so dealers must now pay by cheque or an electronic payment. Under amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, penalties for law-breakers were increased. In 2013, the Scrap Metal Dealers Act was passed, which requires metal dealers to prove to local authorities that they are legitimate traders. All sellers of metal must provide verifiable ID at the point of sale, which will be recorded and retained by the dealer. Also, there will be a single national publicly available register of all scrap metal dealers.

Reduce Your Losses

What can you do to prevent the theft of metal from your property? Bromwall provides these recommendations:

  • Assess your property for valuable metals.
  • Secure the premises, and ensure trees, scaffolding and other means of ingress have been removed.
  • Inspect your property regularly.
  • Encourage the surrounding community to keep an eye out for suspicious persons or behaviour.
  • Educate your employees on what they can do to lower the risk of thefts, and provide them with a process for reporting suspected theft.
  • Consider installing an intruder alarm, or even hiring security services.
  • Consider emerging technologies, such as security marking metal goods on your property, so that they can be more easily found if stolen.

Contact Bromwall today for more risk management insight. We have the resources you need to stay up to date on new laws and technology, and we can provide ways for you to reduce your risk.

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