Trace-in-Metal Ltd has launched an answer to the on-going problem of lead theft from heritage buildings. The new technology uses air rifles to fire non-melting, coded microdots into lead to scare rogue traders from dealing in stolen metal.
Professor Bo Janzon, renowned ballistics expert in charge of Trace-in-Metal’s research and development, said: “This is the technology which gives the best chance of catching rogue traders and deterring lead theft. We use special ammunition which infuses thousands of coded microdots into existing lead structures. They are invisible, survive melting are virtually impossible to remove.”
The Trace-in-Metal system was demonstrated for the first time to representatives from police, the insurance industry, architects and lead processors in May at the Huddersfield Parish Church of St. Peter’s where the system has been installed. The site is only two miles from St. John’s, Birkby, where lead thieves brought down the steeple causing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage. Ecclesiastical Insurance reported that last year there were over 900 incidents of lead theft from churches alone.
John Minary, ex-police officer and heritage crime-prevention expert, explained: “Existing security systems have failed to put a halt to damage to our valuable heritage buildings.” He went on to say, “Listed buildings, such as schools, which are regularly vacant, are particularly at risk.”
After smelting, the microdots are detectable by metal refiners. With simple equipment, the lead is traceable at any stage of the recycling ‘food chain’ through the Immobilise national property register which is regularly accessed by law enforcement and tax authorities.
One of Britain’s oldest heritage building restorers, William Anelay Ltd, have been signed up, with their roofing specialists, Lowery Roofing, as the first installers of the uniquely comprehensive deterrent system.