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Theft of metal – The risks are growing

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Property owner insuranceIn August this year, Transport for London reported that nearly £300,000 worth of metal had been stolen from the system in the last year and is being sold for scrap. This includes £143,000 of material taken from bus stops over the last year. In addition, £291,000 was stolen from the Tube, DLR, Over-ground and Tramline making this a nightmare for commuters’ journeys as the cable theft has become a common cause for delay.

Thieves are going to even greater lengths to harvest various different metals, risking life as well as long prison sentences. Non-ferrous metals such as lead and copper are very desirable and they are not only costly to replace but the theft can interrupt the running of your business causing even further costs. Metals are often used in roof coverings and theft of these can lead to water damage in the building. In addition attractive amounts of cables and piping are often stored on construction sites and their loss can be very costly and delays build schedules which in turn lead to increased staff costs on projects.

Most commercial property owner insurance policies will include theft cover but cover may be restricted to theft following forcible and violent entry to or exit from the building – this may mean that theft of lead, piping etc. from the outside of the building may not be covered under the policy. Some insurers may consider removing these restrictions though payment of an additional premium may be required. Alternatively, some insurance policies will specifically include an extension to cover theft of metals.

In addition to ensuring you have adequate insurance cover in place it is important to be aware of the increased risks and the security measures a business may require to help protect it. You may want to consider improving physical security to the perimeter of your premises such as installing security cameras and security lighting to protect the perimeter of the site of your building.

Reduce ease of access to roofs by keeping ladders locked and hidden away and any scaffolding secure. Also remove items such as waste bins, tall trees and the like that may provide a boost for a burglar to climb on to the building. You could consider putting anti-climb paint on drain pipes etc (but do not forget the deterrent warning signs!).


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