Hundreds of landlords across the Midlands are counting the cost after over half of the region’s vacant properties were hit by metal thieves, many targeting Far Eastern markets.
Independent research by The Vacant Property Specialists shows that just over 50 per cent of the region’s vacant properties are thought to have been hit by criminals in the past year.
The thieves’ main targets are warehouses that have fallen empty due to the recession. The metals they mainly seek are copper and lead, both of which have increased hugely in scrap value in recent years, in part due to rising demand from the Far East.
Copper cabling and pipework, and lead from rooftops are among the most highly targeted fixtures. There is also the danger of other thieves attacking the same site, as they will perceive it as an easy target.
According to Cushman & Wakefield, such thefts can be hugely costly, in terms of repair bills and higher insurance premiums. It is believed that the overall cost of the thefts is now running at £770m in the UK.
The firm is now tackling the problem through its partnership with leading specialist property insurance broker Oval Insurance Broking.
Oval and Cushman & Wakefield believe that one way of reducing the risk posed by thieves attacking empty properties is better risk management, including better security and more frequent inspections of empty properties.
Such basic measures can be supplemented by more sophisticated anti-theft measures, such as watermarking a building’s lead.
Cushman & Wakefield already has a dedicated vacant property inspection team, and risk management specialists who are trained to help deter would-be thieves.
Philip Taylor, asset management partner at Cushman & Wakefield, said: “This is an underestimated and overlooked part of property management.
“Thanks to the provision of specialist training by Oval, we have gained a much wider knowledge of the issues involved, and are able to give our clients improved service.”