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How to Spot Scrap Metal Thieves & How to Stop Them

Selling scrap metal is a great way to gain some extra cash. But as with many money-making opportunities, certain individuals seek to exploit the system. These individuals steal metal from others and sell it on to unwitting merchants. In this article, we’re going to explore how to stay vigilant to suspicious scrap metal dealings and the steps you can take to prevent falling victim to them.

How Does Scrap Metal Theft Impact People?railway

Scrap metal theft harms its victims in multiple ways. The first is by stealing rightful property from its owner. The owner will suffer financial loss as a result of the theft, but may also feel that they were violated, especially if it is a theft from a domestic property. 

The theft may also have a direct impact on the functioning or structure of a building or service. Railways are usually prime targets for scrap metal thieves, due to the abundance of copper in the signalling cables. Removing this cable could cause the railway to temporarily cease functioning, causing disruptions to a wider group of commuters.

Finally, scrap metal dealers who purchase stolen scrap could have their inventory seized by the police, leading to financial loss.

How To Spot Scrap Metal Thieves

Unless caught in the act, it can be difficult to know which goods are stolen and which are possessed lawfully. However, there are a few common items and circumstances that should arouse suspicion.
If you are a scrap metal dealer and are approached for scrap metal sale with any of the following items, be cautious and don’t be afraid to question the individual. Only purchase if you are satisfied with their answers.

  • LARGE amounts of copper pipe – it isn’t unusual for an individual to bring in some copper pipe to sell as scrap, but vast amounts of copper pipe, especially offered by a domestic customer, are often stolen from abandoned houses.copper pipe
  • Cemetery items – trinkets often found in cemeteries are easy pickings for criminals. If you notice a customer trying to sell memorial items, such as vases, question them about it.
  • Air conditioning components — large parts of air conditioning units must be housed outside, making them prime targets for potential metal thieves. Individuals that bring a large selection of air conditioning components with no paperwork should be considered as suspicious.

How To Prevent Scrap Metal Theft

In response to the growing numbers of scrap metal theft incidents, the government introduced the ‘Scrap Metal Dealers Act’ to enforce stricter regulations of the metal recycling sector, making it much harder to foist stolen goods onto scrap metal dealers.
Since the introduction of this legislation, scrap metal thefts has dropped from nearly 62,000 per year in 2012/13 to around 16,000 in 2015/16. While this is a significant decrease, more can always be done to prevent metal theft. As a homeowner, be regimented in how you house your excess metal and follow these tips:

  • Keep scrap metal in a secure, locked place, such as a garage or padlocked shed.
  • If you have a significant amount of scrap metal, consider keeping it in a storage unit.
  • Keep quiet about your scrap metal inventory. Don’t let strangers target you.

Hill Metal Recycling offers leading scrap metal collection and recycling services to customers across Essex, Hertfordshire and the surrounding areas. Thanks to our 25 years of experience in the industry, we’re proficient in recognising suspicious activity within the industry. Our regimented approach has enabled us to participate in legitimate scrap dealings and our great reputation is a testament to this. If you’d like to enquire about our services and receive some of the best prices in the industry for your scrap metal, get in touch with our team.