Metal theft

Over recent months the price of metal has increased substantially which has made it very desirable for criminals. Metal-framed windows, roofs, copper rainwater pipes, iron gates, manhole covers and even church bells are all valuable items and can mean high rewards for thieves. Homes, churches, business premises and public buildings are all potential targets that could suffer from metal theft.

From 3 December 2012 you can no longer pay cash for scrap metal - read about it here

Help us to help you. South Yorkshire Police targets offenders and works towards reducing this kind of crime, but there are ways of avoiding becoming a victim or repeat victim.

Protecting your metal

In your home

  • Mark your metal with weatherproof security marking kits, etching or engraving, ceramic marking or through damage marking such as a large painted sign on heavy or large items.
  • If your house is being renovated, make sure that any metals removed from areas such as plumbing is kept secured and not stored for disposal in an easily-accessible location.
  • Secure the boundary of your household where feasible. Primarily, move any items that would make it easy for a thief to gain access to your roof, such as water butts, trees or waste bins.
  • Check your roof on a regular basis to reduce further damage to your property through weather conditions should parts of your roof be missing due to theft.

At your business

If you are a business, there are a wide range of simple, low-cost measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of your business becoming a victim of metal theft. 

The following are some suggestions:

  • Where possible make premises physically secure, using locks, gates or fencing. If existing security is in place make sure that it is being used.
  • Remove the opportunity to steal by disposing of any scrap materials and equipment as soon as possible.
  • Do not leave ladders or other tools where they could be used by thieves to gain access to your building or to remove your metal.
  • Think about using anti-climb paint on drains and guttering to reduce the ability for thieves to gain access to your roof. Do not use this below a height of two meters.
  • Dont' advertise the presence of cabling covering it up or containing it within alarmed containers or by using ground anchors.
  • Use security marking products to make items identifiable and less desirable to steal. There are a range of commercial UV flourescent greases and lacquers that are available.
  • Use CCTV where available and ensure that it is operating properly. Make sure that lighting is working, and think about installing extra lighting if critical parts of your premises are unlit.
  • Make sure that items such as wheelbarrows or wheelie bins are locked away at night, as these items may be used to transport materials away from the premises.
  • Encourage staff to challenge people that they do not know who and report any suspicions.
  • Prohibit general access to areas where metals are stored, and try to increase security around the times that metals are delivered to your premises.
  • If possible adapt business methods to minimise the amount of metals kept on site. Keep a master list of the equipment and bulk metal you do have, and if possible take photographs of these.
  • Consider alternatives to metal such as lead on roofs, that would reduce your risk.
  • Ensure your insurance coverage is adequate in regards to metal theft. Ensure this is kept up to date should the nature of yoru business or your business premises changes.