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VPS warns business owners that empty properties are the most vulnerable as the Home Office reports metal theft accounts for 1 in 6 of all thefts across all sectors.

VPS, responsible for managing over 90,000 vacant properties in the UK and abroad, warns owners of empty premises ( about the risks and costs to businesses from the rising trend of metal theft reported in the Home Office’s latest Crime against businesses survey (

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.


Notes for editors

About VPS:

VPS secure more than 90,000 properties and employ over 1500 staff in over 100 locations across the UK, the US, and mainland Europe. They specialise in securing, maintaining and managing vacant property across a wide range of customer and industry sectors.

Core building services cover the vacant, unoccupied and void property lifecycle from an initial risk assessment, to security, including guarding, monitoring, clearing, cleaning, maintenance and preparation. These services protect properties against unauthorised access and a variety of hazards such as arson, theft, squatting and unauthorised occupation.

More About Metal Theft:

Two days after one of the most prolific gangs of metal thieves have been jailed for stealing over GBP700,000 of metal and cabling , the Government recognises that metal theft is becoming an increasingly high-profile problem (House of Commons Library).

The Association of Chief Police Officers has estimated that metal theft costs the UK economy approximately GBP770 million per year, with other sources estimating that additional costs not included in that data, together with unreported crimes pushes that figure to over GBP1 billion. The British Transport Police, which has lead policing responsibility for metal theft, experienced 2,000 incidents in 2010/11 compared with approximately 1,500 in 2009/10. It says that the prevalence of metal theft is closely tied to the price of metals on international markets, which is expected to rise until at least 2015.

Special regulations have applied to scrap metal dealers since at least the late 1800s in order to help tackle the theft of metal. The current legislation is set out in the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964, which places specific controls on scrap metal dealers such as a requirement to register with the local authority.

Table A5 Experience of metal theft in the last 12 months by industry sector

On 26 January 2012, the Home Secretary Theresa May announced that the Government would be legislating to amend the 1964 Act to prohibit cash payments to purchase scrap metal and to significantly increase the fines for all relevant offences under the Act. These changes have been legislated for in sections 145 to 147 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

The Government subsequently produced a Hand-out Bill setting out proposals to repeal the 1964 Act altogether and replace it with a new regime to regulate the scrap metal trade. This has been taken up by Richard Ottaway, who has taken it through the House of Commons as the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill 2012-13 and has this month passed the committee stage in the House of Lords. Key features of the Bill include giving local authorities the power to revoke and vary scrap metal dealer licences, requiring sellers of metal to provide personal identification at the point of sale, re-enacting and extending the cash payments ban legislated for in the 2012 Act, and giving the police and local authorities new powers to enter and inspect sites.

Press contacts:

For more information regarding VPS or this release, please contact:

Graham Sievers
+44 (0)77 222 82 946
Knole Park Ltd, PR

or Adrienne Kearney
Head of Marketing
+44(0)8706 08706 2
VPS, Premiere House, Elstree Way, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, WD6 1JH

Hi-res photos available:

First image: Pub with water damage following roof metal theft

Second image: Securing an unoccupied pub

Third image: View through a broken pub window

Images supplied by VPS, Vacant Property Specialists

Other images available

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