Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The increasing problem of metal theft

At a time of high global demand for raw materials, thieves are targeting many types of metal, typically lead and copper but also increasingly steel. Whilst roofs are the most likely targets, particularly on churches, other sources such as rainwater goods, lightning conductors and statues in the grounds are all at risk.

By the end of 2007, Ecclesiastical, the main insurer of churches, reported claims of over ten million Pounds. Lead sheet was the main target, but a significant proportion of this cost was making good damage caused by the thieves and the subsequent ingress of water. English Heritage believes that 'the dramatic increase in theft has come about because of spiraling prices caused by worldwide demand for lead-acid batteries, both for vehicles and UPS (uninterrupted power supplies) and more recently because of speculator activity this rising market price has attracted. Significant amounts of lead have been stock-piled and kept from the market to encourage prices to rise. Prices started to fall by the start of 2008 as new sources of supply opened up.'

English Heritage has issued specific guidance on metal theft in view of the intensification of the problem in recent months, particularly on lead roofs on churches. The guidance highlights the importance of prevention and the need to use a combination of security measures to deter thieves. Many of the options suggested are low cost but effective measures like locking gates to prevent vehicles getting close, preventing easy access to roofs such as removing water butts and waste bins, applying anti-climb paint to drain pipes and roof guttering, and erecting prominent warning signs.

[Salvo would encourage anyone who has had lead roofing or any other antique or architectural item stolen to raise a Salvo Theft alert. These are charged at 2p per day and are viewed by the thousands of people who look at SalvoWEB everyday.]

English Heritage

Salvo Theft Alerts

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