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Listed Building Metal Thefts

Now, I’m not saying I’m old or anything, but in my day no self-respecting opportunist thief would consider walking off with you drain pipes or stealing the lead from the roof. However, we are beginning to see more and more listed building insurance claims for theft of metal from buildings particularly from listed building owners. Sure, theft of metal from church roofs was always a problem, but your average homeowner was usually left alone.

Your typical insurance claim for Theft usually involved the stealing of portable electrical items and cash, if there was any to hand. As someone that once lived in a flat, in a listed building (with far from adequate theft protections) we experienced 4 break-ins in three years and each time it was always the same items that were stolen: TV, Video, Radio, etc. etc all hauled away in a Marks and Spencer’s pillow case. When we finally left our London home, we had improved security to the point that we used to refer to it as Pentonville prison, which was just around the corner, never once though worried about the drain pipes.

Nowadays, it seems that metal is high amongst the desired items for a thief to steal and we at Asseture have had a number of claims for the theft of metal from listed buildings including lead from roofs and some beautiful Victorian drain pipes. It seems the appetite for metal is not just restricted to lead; there have been reports of manhole covers being taken, skips being raided, and one empty office block near our offices even had the internal wiring stripped out one weekend.

This type of crime is not good news for listed building owners and home owners with metal used in the construction of their property, there is not really a good deal you can do to secure items located outside of your building! Insurance will of course pay for theft of metal from buildings, but some of the metal stolen is exceedingly difficult to replace. There is no doubt that metal Thefts are at epidemic proportions and could be a contributing factor to the increasing costs of home insurance.

According to Mr Richard Ottaway a Conservative MP, the Association of Chief Police Officers had estimated the cost of metal theft to the UK economy to be more than £750 million, with that estimate probably being on the low side. Mr Ottaway is trying to update the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 to empower local authorities to revoke the licences of scrap metal dealers who they believe are dealing in stolen metal. The updated act will also ensure that detailed accounts of all metal transactions are kept. This bill has just had its second reading in Parliament.

There are, however, a number of initiatives up and down the country which many bona fide scrap metal dealers have already joined, in fact, a few weeks ago I jokingly asked our builder if he would be taking our old aluminium double glazed window off to the scrap metal merchant for cash as I was sure they would disappear from the skip outside overnight. He replied that our local scrap metal dealer was part of a voluntary initiative, and before accepting any metal; you would have to provide proof of: who you were, where the metal came from, your address and phone number and a copy of your driving licence. Fair enough I said, the metal did disappear though.

This updated bill and these local initiatives, hopefully will help to reduce the amount of damage being caused to listed buildings by metal theft: premiums are under enough pressure from water related problems and we could really do without another peril adding to that pressure. We are happy at Assetsure to obtain insurance quotations for all types of listed buildings including those of course with a good deal of metal used in the construction.

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