Small Businesses: Secure Premises as Scrap Metal Theft Soars

Scrap metalBusiness owners need to take steps to protect their vehicles and premises as rates of scrap metal theft have soared across the UK, the British Transport Police (BTP) has warned.

The rising market value of metals such as copper and lead is contributing to the increase, the BTP said. Official figures estimate that scrap metal theft is now costing the UK around £1 billion a year.

BTP deputy chief constable Paul Crowther, who heads the Association of Chief Police Officers‘ Metal Theft Working Group, said metal theft was a “huge problem” which often caused serious disruption and a significant financial outlay for businesses.  

He identified one common example of metal theft as the unlawful removal of catalytic converters from company vehicles, as these often contained precious metals such as platinum. Other types of equipment targeted by thieves include air conditioning units and even cables, he said, as they typically contained copper.

Nick Gilbert, crime reduction adviser at Thames Valley Police which has set up Operation Precious to tackle metal theft, said small firms could take simple steps to protect themselves.

“Review your existing security ― such as lighting, CCTV and fencing ― and check it’s adequate. If you use skips, try to make them as secure as possible ― by using cages, for instance.”

Firms using fleet vehicles which were parked outside at night should take extra precautions, he added.

“Try to park vehicles inside if possible, but failing that park them as closely together as possible to make them less accessible,” said Gilbert. “You can also have catalytic converters welded on to cars, or use special locks to secure them.”

Forum of Private Business spokesman Phil McCabe said that metal theft from businesses was becoming increasingly common and the associated costs could be high.

“Not only are you looking at the cost of repairing or replacing the stolen piece of equipment, but very often victims of crime see their insurance premiums pushed up or find it hard to get insurance cover at all,” he said.

Small Businesses: Secure Premises as Scrap Metal Theft Soars

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