UK’s ABI Warns Metal Theft Crime Wave Costs Insurers over $1.6 Million a Week

May 21, 2012

“The victims of the UK’s metal theft crime wave are now being paid out over £1 million [$1.58 million] every week by insurers,” according to the Association of British Insurers. Thieves are making off with everything from “train cables to sculptures; the theft of metal is estimated to be costing the UK economy £770 million [$1.218 billion] a year. Every week it is thought that there are 1,000 incidents of metal theft.”

The ABI is urging a crackdown on metal thefts, which it plans to release on Tuesday, May 22, at a conference it is organizing involving insurers, the Government and British Transport Police.

The conference will give details on the full extent of the metal theft crime wave, as evinced by the following weekly figures:
• An estimated 1,000 metal thefts occur – double the number of five years ago
• Nearly 300 tons of metal is stolen – the weight equivalent of 300 cars.
• Insurers are paying out over £1 million [$1.583 million] to customers who have had metal stolen.
• The theft of metal costs the UK economy £15 million [$23.74 million] in replacing stolen metal, disruption and lost business.
• Metal thefts result in 117 hours delay in train services.
• 23 churches are attacked by metal thieves

The ABI explained that the high prices now being paid for raw metal, “the widespread accessibility of metals such as copper and lead, and difficulties in identifying and recovering stolen metals are the main reasons for the continued rise in metal thefts.”

Nick Starling, the ABI’s Director of General Insurance, commented: “Metal thieves are putting lives at risk, causing expensive damage and massive disruption. From delayed train journeys to loss of telephone and internet connections, to damaged churches, most people are affected by this crime.

“We support Government action to make it harder to sell on stolen metal and tougher penalties for offenders. Insurers have a key role to play, not only compensating those insured, but in helping their customers take sensible security measures to reduce this ever- present threat. This is why we are working with the Government to crackdown on metal thefts”.

The ABI also offered up the following examples of the wide range of metal thefts:
• Thieves stole a train with two trucks of scrap metal, driving it down the line and emptying the metal into lorries [trucks] at the track side.
• Drain covers in Birmingham are being forensically marked after 950 were stolen in the second half of 2011.
• A hospital in south Wales was forced to cancel operations following the theft of metal cable.
• Operations at Hertfordshire Police headquarters were disrupted following an attempted metal theft.
• A gas explosion which wrecked a row of houses in West Yorkshire has been linked to the theft of copper piping.
• A village near Chester suffered a communications blackout affecting homes, schools and the doctor’s surgery after thieves stole underground telecom cables.
• Lead drainpipes were stolen from Manchester Cathedral, as well as lead from the roof. The damage cost £30,000 [$47,487] to repair.
• A sculpture valued at £500,000 [$791,341] was stolen by suspected scrap metal thieves from a park in south London.

Source: Association of British Insurers

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