Rise in Metal Theft Across Britain’s Heritage Sites

A SURVEY of reported metal thefts from heritage sites across the UK indicates that the UK is seeing an alarming rise in metal theft.

The survey, conducted by VPS Security Services, found hundreds of reports of church roofs being stripped of lead in the 12 months leading up to April this year, averaging 37 incidents a month.

Nicholas Bye, VPS Security Services Director

“These are only the thefts that are reported as metal theft by insurers and the police” explains Nicholas Bye, a VPS Security Services Director.

“They amount to a daily stripping of valuable metals from heritage sites across the UK. The actual numbers are probably even higher, because reporting methods across the UK are inconsistent. Lead, copper, nickel and other metals have all risen in value this year, but the scrap metal value is still pitifully small when compared to the cost of replacement and repair. Beyond the sheer cost, though, is the impact on our heritage. It is disappearing before our eyes.”

One recent case of lead theft saw 20 tonnes of lead – the entire roof – stolen from All Saints’ Church in Houghton Conquest, Bedfordshire. VPS Security Services estimated that the lead may have equated to £25,000 for the thieves, but the cost to the church was much greater (£400,000).

The VPS’ findings have been published prior to a conference dedicated entirely to the rise in metal theft. “Metal Crime – The Hidden Cost”, will focus on the far-reaching implications of Metal crime, and action that can be taken to prevent it, and is run by the BTP, with the NPCC, on Friday May 31st at Birmingham’s Tally Ho Conference Centre. Tickets can be booked here.

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