Metal theft

An image of metal which can be stolenAn image of leading on a roofAn image of metal which can be stolen

Preventing metal theft

Every year tonnes of metal is stolen from homes, businesses, churches, schools and substations.

Not only does this type of theft cause disruption to services and inconvenience to those affected but it is also costly to replace or repair any damage.

While Northumbria Police targets offenders and works to reduce this kind of crime, there are ways of reducing metal theft in our communities.

Protect your home

You can protect your home by:

  • Keeping gates locked and installing strong fences - you can also grow prickly hedges around property boundaries which should to be kept well pruned to maximise visibility.
  • Being aware of any objects that could be used to access your roof like water butts, wheelie bins and garden furniture - if possible these should be stored away from the building.
  • Restricting vehicle access where possible.
  • Putting outside lighting on a dusk till dawn circuit.
  • Storing ladders and tools in a secure place.
  • Being a good neighbour and encouraging others in your neighbourhood to be vigilant.
  • Checking your roof regularly for any missing lead – early detection can allow for roof repairs before it rains and there is additional internal damage.

Businesses and public buildings

Businesses and public buildings can be protected by:

  • Regularly reviewing the perimeter fencing and gates security - checking for holes and weak spots which could allow people access.
  • Improving visibility by cutting back vegetation, moving bins or improving the lighting.
  • Ensuring any equipment or materials stored near the building do not allow easy access to the roof. Anti-climb paint or physical barriers can be used to prevent access, but all anti-climb devices must be clearly signposted to comply with the Occupiers Liability Act 1984.
  • Not leaving any scrap materials lying around which could tempt thieves.
  • Using a forensic solution to mark any lead - warning signs saying forensic marking has been used should be displayed. Products can be found at Where a theft has happened, you should consider using lead replacement products - check with your local planning officer to see if this is allowed on your building.
  • Installing CCTV with adequate monitoring and recording. An Operational Requirement should also be completed. This document is unique to each installation and used by the contractor or person setting up the system for the design, performance, specification and functionality of the equipment used. Visible warning signs should be displayed as a deterrent to potential offenders.
  • Encouraging staff to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour or vehicles to the police.
  • Encouraging people in the local community to be vigilant around buildings like places of worship and schools, reporting any suspicious activity, particularly the unexpected arrival of builders.

Catalytic converter theft

Catalytic converters have been fitted to the exhaust systems of most petrol cars built since the early 90s.

Thieves have been targeting catalytic converters because of the precious metals they contain, with high clearance vehicles like vans being particularly vulnerable.

You can find information on how to improve the security of your vehicle against catalytic converter thieves by following this link.