With metal theft reaching epidemic proportions, a leading electronic security solutions provider has teamed up with a prominent metals dealer to deliver some of the highest levels of protection yet in the metals reprocessing industry.
“We regularly hear of disruption on the railways because vital cables have been stolen for scrap copper, of lead sheeting being stripped from church roofs, and of police raids on unscrupulous merchants,” says Alan Blake, Sales and Marketing Director at Secom plc. “Such events underline the high value of non-ferrous metals – and their ready marketability, especially at the hands of ‘no questions asked’ dealers.
“Secom is committed to making a safer society and as part of this we have a responsibility to make available security solutions that can significantly curtail crimes such as metal theft.”
He says police forces are doing their best to break the illegal metals supply chain by targetting merchants willing to turn stolen metal into cash. “A Bill now before Parliament seeks to introduce licensing of scrap metal merchants and formally to criminalise current underhand deals. But while times are difficult and non-ferrous metals are highly priced, metal theft will remain an attractive option for people prepared to risk anything to make money. A combination of tough action and sensible precautions is the best way to address the problem.”
Alan Blake says a good example of sensible precautions is the CCTV and monitored alarm system Secom installed at the Stevenage premises of Alchemy Metals, specialist processor of high-value scrap – typically from various manufacturing sectors. He says: “Our systems are designed to ensure that if Alchemy’s perimeter security and access control systems were breached, the unwelcome visitors would be captured on camera and alarms would be triggered.”
Alchemy’s Managing Director Philip Newman is at the forefront of efforts to eradicate metal theft. And with 50% of metal thefts involving metal stolen from dealers, he has set up the Stevenage premises to safeguard material being processed – as well as preventing stolen metal from entering the recycling stream.
Philip Newman says: “Much of the material we process is collected by our own vehicles from respectable companies keen to get the best price for their scrap. We also accept scrap from elsewhere – provided it is delivered to us by people we know and comes from traceable, legitimate sources.
“Because we deal in high-value scrap – including ‘sensitive’ material typically from the aerospace and defence sectors – it is essential that we have excellent physical security enhanced by the best in high-tech electronic systems. The systems that Secom has installed for us, and monitors and maintains on an ongoing basis, give us and our customers the confidence that our premises, staff and the material we handle are at minimal risk.”
Alan Blake says companies that produce high-value scrap as a by-product of their manufacturing processes generally handle the scrap carefully because they are aware of its worth. “However, if a manufacturer does not store his scrap securely with physical and electronic protection, then he’s lucky if metal thieves do not strike,” he says.
“Similarly, any organisation at risk of metal theft should review its security and surveillance systems as soon as possible. Security has benefitted enormously from miniaturisation in electronics, so that comprehensive modern systems for indoor and outdoor use can be installed and commissioned quickly – and, for the enhanced cover they provide – at very reasonable cost.
“Our monitored alarm and CCTV services provide up to 24/7 coverage. Any alarm event is received immediately by the experienced security professionals in our Alarm Receiving Centre and, if necessary, appropriate responses are initiated within seconds. This means that, first, false alarms are virtually eliminated, so there is no waste of police time and, second, that rapid response increases the chance of arresting the perpetrators on site and reduces the damage they might otherwise do.”
Alan Blake says any church that still has intact lead sheeting on its roof and does not have proper security should seek specialist advice as soon as possible. “The cost of security is small in comparison to the likely impact a theft would have on future insurance premiums – not to mention the inconvenience of repairs and the cost of any other remedial work not covered by insurance.”