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Metal thieves – targeting homeowners across the country

Increased world demand for metals has lead to a surge in metal thefts in recent times. Criminals are not only targeting the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, but also war memorials, memorial plaques and ordinary residential houses. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), insurers are paying out in excess of £1 million pounds per week to victims of metal thefts.

Lead and copper from roofs, downpipes and roof flashings, copper lightening conductors, bronze statues, metal garden ornaments, iron gates and even church bells have all been targeted recently. Where lead has been removed from a roof, not only will this be immensely expensive to replace, the roof will no longer be weatherproof until replaced, and this can result in water damage to the interior of the property.

It is hard to believe that people would stoop so low as to remove memorial plaques - but they do. They also destroy items of great beauty. For example, in July 2012 a 22" bronze sundial by Henry Moore valued at up to £500,000 was stolen from the grounds of the Henry Moore Foundation in Hertfordshire. A few years later another bronze sculpture was stolen from the same museum. Neither have been recovered and it is believed they have been melted down for their scrap value only.

What can you do to reduce the risk of metals from your property? Here we offer a few suggestions:

> Where possible, remove items that give burglars easy access to your home – such as water butts, waste bins and tools.
> Ladders should be stored safely and out of view
> Check your roof regularly and replace stolen materials before rain causes any damage to your property
> If you are having works undertaken on your property, please advise your insurance broker who will help you with the additional terms and conditions which will apply. Non disclosure of this material fact can affect your insurance cover. If the works include metals, keep them in a locked location.
> Mark your metal using security marking products which forensically links thieves to crime scenes. These can be used on property exposed to the elements such as lead roofs and on sculptures without causing any damage to these.

Secured by Design is the official UK Police flagship initiative supporting the principles of 'designing out crime'. Take a look at www.securedbydesign.com for advice on how to protect your precious metals etc

The ABI described metal theft as an 'ever-present threat' which causes extensive disruption and affects most people, and which has led to Government plans to tighten legislation around the matter. However, if you are a target of crime, you could consider the environmental and conservation benefits of replacing it on a like for like basis, before considering a less theft-attractive material. If you decide to use an alternative material, planning permission or listed building consent may be required. If you are in a listed building, do not forget you may need consent to alter materials.

Having good insurance advice is vital, so speak with a professional company who can help you protect your property and, should the worst happen, help you to sort out the problems. One call to Westhill Insurance Services will make sure your property is properly covered. No matter what type of residence you have, our friendly and professional team will help you to find the best possible cover to meet your needs. As an independent insurance broker, we will shop around to find the best possible deal to match your needs as well as your budget.

Don't let these material thieves leave you out of pocket, it just takes an iron will and some determination to make life difficult for these perpetrators, plus a large dose of common sense and good insurance to make sure your home remains your castle. It's worth taking a look around your property (and don't forget the roof), then make a quick call to Westhill Insurance Services – if it needs covering, we can help.

Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.

Posted on 18th October, 2012