FOI request reveals UK’s copper and lead theft hot spots

New research from Roofing Megastore reveals the cities and towns in the UK which have the most reported building material thefts over the past five years.  

The data, which was obtained from Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to the UK’s police forces, revealed the areas of the country which are at most risk of having popular building materials such as copper and theft, stolen from their homes or local buildings.

Sheffield and Preston are the cities with the most copper and lead thefts 

Sheffield and Preston are the cities with the most building material thefts, each with 482 reported crimes since 2017. Nine out of the top ten cities with the most reported thefts are based in the north of the country, with towns and cities including Burnley, Doncaster, and Barnsley all ranking in the top ten. 

Ten cities that fall under Lancashire Constabulary ranked in the top 25 list, while three cities from the Humberside area also placed in the top 25. Cities and towns governed by the South Yorkshire Police only appeared four times in the top 25 list, however the four towns that were included (Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster and Sheffield), each reported over 245 total crimes, placing them in the top ten.

Amongst the northern destinations which ranked in the top 25 cities, were three towns from Kent (Canterbury, Ashford and Margate), and towns in the middle and south of England, including Norwich, Worksop South and Dudley. One Welsh town made the top 25 list, with Llanelli reporting 105 building material thefts since 2017. 

Rank

City/town

Police force area

Total reported thefts 2017 – 2022

1

Sheffield

South Yorkshire Police

482

2

Preston

Lancashire Constabulary

482

3

Houghton

Northumbria Police

439

4

Kingston Upon Hull

Humberside Police

347

5

Burnley

Lancashire Constabulary

331

6

Doncaster

South Yorkshire Police

305

7

Rotherham

South Yorkshire Police

287

8

Nelson

Lancashire Constabulary

263

9

Barnsley

South Yorkshire Police

246

10

Canterbury

Kent Police

238

11

Blackburn

Lancashire Constabulary

231

12

Grimsby

Humberside Police

213

13

Accrington

Lancashire Constabulary

166

14

Scunthorpe

Humberside Police

153

15

Colne

Lancashire Constabulary

133

16

Blackpool

Lancashire Constabulary

129

17

Ashford

Kent Police

129

18

Norwich

Norfolk Constabulary

128

19

Lancaster

Lancashire Constabulary

126

20

Lytham St Annes

Lancashire Constabulary

121

21

Dudley

West Midlands Police

116

22

Worksop South

Nottinghamshire Police

108

23

Llanelli

Dyfed-Powys Police

105

24

Margate

Kent Police

104

25

Morecambe

Lancashire Constabulary

102

Lancashire, Cleveland and Kent police forces have reported the most building material thefts 

Northern areas of the UK reported the highest numbers of copper and lead thefts, with Lancashire Constabulary ranking in first position with 2,712 reported crimes during the years 2017 – 2022. Other northern areas, including those which fall under Cleveland, Northumbria and South Yorkshire police forces all ranked in the top areas with the most thefts, each having reported over 1,300 during the same time period.

Ranking in positions six to ten were several areas covering the Midlands, with Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire police areas ranking in 7th, 8th and 10th positions, respectively. 

The nation’s capital, and surrounding areas covered by the City of London police force ranked in 28th position – reporting just nine copper and lead thefts over the past half a decade.

Overall, copper and lead theft reports in 2021 from the 28 police forces totalled 1,667 – down almost 37% from 2020’s total (2,277 reported thefts).

Rank

Police force area

Population covered by police force

Total reported thefts 2017 – 2022

1

Lancashire Constabulary

1,449,300

2,712

2

Cleveland Police

557,000

2,459

3

Kent Police

1,800,000

1,559

4

Northumbria Police

1,500,000

1,440

5

South Yorkshire Police

1,280,000

1,326

6

Humberside Police

920,000

1,309

7

Nottinghamshire Police

1,000,000

1,239

8

Derbyshire Constabulary

1,000,000

865

9

Durham Constabulary

641,000

832

10

Leicestershire Police

1,000,000

766

Gian-Carlo Grossi, Managing Director at Roofing Megastore comments: 

“The first step when you discover you’ve been robbed is always to report it to the police, either by phone or online. Following this, you’ll need to determine what impact the missing lead may have on your property. For example, missing lead, particularly if located at an abutment to a wall, could quickly result in water ingress. If left unfixed, this could cost damage that can easily cost thousands of pounds to put right, and may also cause structural issues over time.

When it comes to protecting your home’s exterior and deterring building material thieves, there are a few options – though perhaps the most effective would be an alarm and CCTV system. Not only can these put off any potential thieves, but the footage can add a great deal of clarity when it comes to reporting the crime. Naturally, this may not be a preferred method by many, especially if you only have a small amount of copper or lead on your roof. A far cheaper alternative then could be to install a dummy camera – though bear in mind these can often be picked out by experienced burglars.  In much the same vein, dusk till dawn lighting can also ward off potential thieves. Motion sensors in particular are a sound investment with infra-red switching on lights only when needed, keeping costs low. To aid in the effectiveness of these lights, you should also take care to keep trees and other vegetation cut back, maximising your home’s natural surveillance.”

To see the full list of the towns, cities and police force areas which have experienced the most lead and copper thefts over the past half a decade, visit: https://www.roofingmegastore.co.uk/robbed-copper