Home Office and VPS warn businesses about metal theft in empty premises

VPS has warned business owner that properties standing empty are the most vulnerable to metal thefts after a Home Office report stated that these theft account for 1 in 6 in all sectors. VPS, who are responsible for managing more than 90,000 empty premises in both the UK and abroad, has sent out this warning via their website  www.vpspecialists.co.uk/news/press-releases/136/ .

This highlights the risks and the costs to businesses relating to this latest trend for metal thefts that the Home Office have featured in their latest survey into crime against businesses,  www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/crime-research/crime-business-prem-2012/crime-business-prem-2012-pdf

Published on 24th January, the survey asked about the latest incident of burglary and the latest incident of theft by others, with around one in six respondents reporting that items had been taken for their scrap metal value (17 percent and 16 percent respectively).

“This data almost certainly underestimates the actual size of the problem, as there isn’t a specific offence citing metal theft, so these crimes may get included within other categories,” said Simon Alderson, Commercial Director of VPS, “and also because many metal and lead thefts, such as from Church roofs or telecommunication cabling were not included in this survey.”

Mr Alderson also stressed that “Unoccupied commercial premises are likely to bear the brunt of the estimated total GBP1 billion costs to repair the damage and replace stolen items from these crimes, and this report highlights the need for owners or landlords to strengthen their security and protection for their vacant properties.”

“We welcome the progression of the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill  through the House of Lords on its way to becoming law, as it could help cut metal theft in the UK.” he added.

The headline data from the report is as follows:

• The 4,017 interviews covered respondents at premises in the manufacturing, wholesale and retail, transportation and storage, and accommodation and food industry sectors.

• Around 1 in 6 respondents reported metal or lead theft in the most recent incident of burglary or theft

• When asked how much metal theft had occurred during all crimes over the last 12 months:

– 10 percent reported metal or lead theft across all the sectors

– 67,000 such thefts have been experienced by these commercial sectors in 2012.

This month hundreds of metal thefts have already been reported including GBP2000 of copper cabling from an Asda store due to open in March, in Larkhall , Scotland, and a metal fire escape in Plymouth, also worth about GBP2000.

VPS has recently been interviewed by the Publican’s Morning Advertiser who are highlighting the issue of metal theft from vacant public houses in this week’s edition.