Government metal theft figures reveal 1 theft every 3 minutes
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Latest Government Metal Theft figures reveal  1 metal theft every 3 minutes



First Government report on Metal Theft crime figures 2013 for England & Wales



Well, we have been hearing about ‘metal theft’ for a couple of years now, since the economy got flushed, but without any government figures to show how bad it really is, one wonders if it has all been hype by the media and security companies. Now we can stop wondering…

A government report just published is the first ever report relating to metal theft crime figures in England & Wales. The report uses data collected from 43 forces (roughly half of all UK police forces) during the year 2012/13. From this year, all forces will be compiling such data on an on going basis.

On the basis that the following information is based on roughly half of UK police forces, we can estimate that at the beginning of 2012, there was in the region of 1 metal theft every 3 minutes. And those are only the thefts that got reported. So it would seem that the hype was correct. Even manhole covers have been disappearing and they are worth virtually nothing.


Government definition of metal theft 

An offence is flagged as metal theft if it is believed that the intent for committing an offence was to remove an item for its scrap metal value rather than acquisition of the item itself. Attempted metal theft offences are also flagged by police and are included in the metal theft figures presented here.


Metal theft categories

For reporting purposes, metal theft has been split in to two categories:

Infrastructure-related metal theft is‘the removal of metal that has a direct impact on the functioning of infrastructure and/or fabric of a building or machinery. This includes all metals that are connected to live services such as: water, heating, electricity, other service cabling and railway cabling, roofing lead, a catalytic converter removed from a vehicle and manhole covers’.

Non-infrastructure-related metal theft is‘the removal of metal that has no direct impact on the functioning of infrastructure and/or fabric of a building or machinery. This includes metal that is not connected to services, redundant metal, war memorial plaques, and metal gates/fencing’.

Metal theft statistics

Of the 61,349 metal theft offences recorded by police in England and Wales: As this total is the sum of approximately half of the England and Wales forces, the true total is likely to be double this at around 122,500 metal thefts.

  • 28,843 (47%) were infrastructure-related offences
  • 25,869 (42%) were non-infrastructure-related offences
  • 6,637 (11%) were not classified


metal theft statistics

Of the infrastructure-related metal thefts:

  • 57% were linked to other theft offences
  • 21% were linked to burglary offences
  • 21% were linked to offences against vehicles
  • 1% were linked to other offences

Of the non-infrastructure-related metal thefts:

  • 69% were linked to other theft offences
  • 20% were linked to burglary offences
  • 11% were linked to offences against vehicles
  • 1% were linked to other offences


proportion of metal thefts 


During the financial year ending March 2013, metal theft offences in England and Wales have fallen by 40%. This is believed to be the result of

Introduction of local initiatives to reduce metal theft

A general fall in the price of scrap metal over the reporting period

Pending legislation change to prevent scrap metal being bought for cash by merchants

Increased media coverage of metal theft


Our conclusion & recommendations

Obviously it is great news that instances of metal theft have fallen over the previous year. The publication of the above figures will hopefully bring an increased focus on metal theft by police, government and media, which will undoubtedly increase the downward trend.

Although instances of metal theft fell by 40% in 2012/13, there were still in excess of 61,000 (This figure represents only 50% of the England  & Wales forces, so actual figure is estimated at double this figure at 122,000 cases) thefts. Figures released recently by Ecclesiastical Insurance revealed that the average cost of theft from church roofs alone was £27,700 so it is still a major problem.

We advise all those who are at risk, such as churches, heritage buildings, engineering companies with external scrap metal stores etc. not to be lulled in to a false sense of security. Physical and electronic security solutions may seem like an expensive purchase, but compared to the cost of the potential loss AND repair work (thieves do a lot of damage) it is a drop in the ocean. All at risk sites should implement the best physical and electronic security they can reasonably afford.

If you are reading this in relation to church roof security and need further guidance on the options available in plain English, see our Church security guide.

To discuss any security applications or solutions call us on 01685 350418 or click to see our range of specialist wireless security systems.