Theft of valuable metals from properties and infrastructure is a Europe-wide problem and businesses are bearing the brunt of the cost, warns Simon Broadbent, CEO of Secure Empty Property.

Metal theft is an EU wide problem for all businesses

The specialist security contractor reports that where metal is stripped to be re-sold by criminals, the damage caused when it is removed far exceeds the value of the commodity stolen. The company estimates that repair costs can be as much as 50 times the value of the metal in some cases. Costs can relate to lead stolen from a church roof, power outages from copper being stolen from substations or rail passengers and train operating companies dealing with costly delays after cable has been stolen from the railway. Vacant commercial properties are especially vulnerable as security is frequently insufficient to meet the risks of determined attack.

In the Republic of Ireland, metal theft is a significant problem with the national electricity provider reporting six incidents of cable theft per week representing about 140Km of copper with an associated repair cost of 27m Euro over a four year period. Foreign gangs are understood to be behind many major incidents with the involvement of both Europol and the Gardai. There are claims that overseas gangs are even flying in to carry out thefts after vulnerable locations have been pinpointed by associates.

In the UK by comparison, a robust response to such thefts has been instigated with the Scrap Metal Dealer’s Act 2013, which came into force on 1 October 2013, demanding scrap dealers obtain a full license, carefully record each sale of metal to deter a ‘no questions asked’ culture, and refrain from making cash payments in exchange for scrap metal.   

However, the UK’s Nationwide Metal Theft Taskforce headed by the British Transport Police has now been reduced to a ‘skeleton’ staff as funding has not been renewed. Although bodies such as the British Metals Recycling Association – BNRA educates scrap metal dealers about metal theft, highlighting what to look out for when metal and cable is brought into yards, there is a limit to what they can achieve without police and specialist taskforce support.

Secure Empty Property has seen a spike of metal theft from vacant residential, commercial and industrial premises as commodity prices peak increasing the rewards to this criminal behavior. Worse, landlords face repair costs upwards of 50 times the cost of the metal itself. These costs are associated with replacement of lost cabling, making good damage to partitions and plasterwork, lost rental income and even increased insurance premiums. This can leave the owner with bills of thousands of pounds. On top of this, the impact upon the business reputation, business interruption, delays in disposal or refurbishment of the property can be business critical.

Recent examples of mains electricity cable theft seen by the company include the removal of the main electricity supply feed to a large nursing home on the South coast just metres from the sub-station. Here, the cable was so heavy that it had been removed awaiting nightfall and a vehicle to remove the copper from site. The thieves had even set a bonfire to strip the plastic coating from the cable. Luckily, the landlord instructed Secure Empty Property and a range of temporary CCTV verified intruder detectors with 24-hour monitoring and response was installed together with a temporary concrete vehicle barrier to prevent access to the site. This security technology has prevented any subsequent damage to the property.

Secure Empty Property was set up in 2012 by its Chief Executive Simon Broadbent, who has more than 25 years’ experience in the industry. It now employs 27 people and is the fastest growing business of its type in the UK. The company is backed by Enterprise Ventures, which manages The North West Fund for Venture Capital which in turn is financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank.

The company provides rapid-response security services such as steel shuttering and temporary monitored intruder alarms to properties nationwide. Its services help prevent vandalism, squatting, arson and theft from empty properties, and protects landlords against liability for trespassers.

Secure Empty Property Chief Executive Simon Broadbent says, ‘The theft of electricity cable from empty property poses a real risk to both the property and the vandal. Landlords can be faced with a massive bill to reinstate supply and make good. However the thieves can pay with their lives when removing power distribution cabling. We urge property managers to mitigate these risks before they happen’.


For further information contact Andrew Mapstone, Secure Empty Property
Tel: 01372 450 669
Mob: 07871 956 223
Email: andrew.mapstone@secureemptyproperty.com

About Enterprise Ventures
Enterprise Ventures (EV) is one of the leading providers of venture capital, growth capital and loans to small businesses in the UK. We can provide sums from as little as £25,000 up to £2 million for businesses in all sectors and at all stages of development – from funding for start-ups, including management break-outs, to investment for growth or development capital, management buy-outs (MBO) or management buy-ins (MBI), acquisition financings and replacement capital. Enterprise Ventures invested £30 million in 218 transactions in 2014 – equivalent to four investments every working week.  


The North West Fund
The North West Fund is a substantial evergreen investment fund established to provide debt and equity funding (from £25,000 to £2 million) to small and medium sized enterprises based in, or relocating to, the North West of England. The Fund addresses an identified gap in the lending, venture capital and private equity markets. It is one of the largest public sector funds of its kind in Europe and the largest in the UK.

The North West Fund is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) under the European Commission's Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises Initiative – otherwise known as the JEREMIE programme.

The North West Fund is the umbrella name for the seven funds that are available to businesses in the form of debt, equity and quasi-equity. These funds are managed by individual fund managers. Each fund manager has a mandate to invest their allocation into the specific product or sector they manage, by 31st December 2015.

The fund managers are under contract with North West Business Finance Limited (NWBF), which is a private, not for profit company, established to oversee the delivery of The North West Fund.

The North West Fund has now invested over £112m in more than 330 businesses. Further funding has also been earmarked to support these businesses as they grow and many more new investments are planned throughout 2015.

For further information please visit www.thenorthwestfund.co.uk

European structure, JEREMIE
The JEREMIE initiative offers EU Member States, through their national or regional Managing Authorities, the opportunity to use part of their European Union (EU) Structural Funds to finance small and medium-sized enterprises by means of equity, loans or guarantees, through a revolving umbrella fund. The initiative was developed by the European Commission and the European Investment Fund, which is part of the European Investment Bank Group.

JEREMIE provides for a range of debt and equity financial tools to obtain the most appropriate allocation of funds according to national, regional or local requirements.

ERDF in the Northwest
ERDF is making a real difference to people and businesses in the North West. The current ERDF programme, which is worth €755 million, is enhancing the competitiveness of the region’s economy by supporting growth in enterprise and employment.

ERDF in the North West is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government – for further information visit https://www.gov.uk/erdf-programmes-and-resources.

The EIB is the European Union’s long-term financing institution and, provides long-term finance for capital projects promoting European economic objectives. The EIB made its first loan in the UK in 1973 and since then has lent around €75bn for investment in the UK economy. In the years from 2004 to 2009, the EIB financed investment in the UK totaling some € 23.5bn - GBP 17.5 billion.

Integrity House, Three Point Business Park, Charles Lane, Haslingden, Lancashire, BB4 5EH