This summer holiday, British schools are at risk of having valuable lead stripped from their roofs by criminals, causing major damage and leaving the buildings vulnerable to flooding.
This is the warning from specialist education insurer Ecclesiastical at a time when most schools have closed down for the summer break leaving them vulnerable to metal thieves According to Gloucester-based Ecclesiastical, 2010 is set to be one of the worst years for the theft of metal from buildings since records began. While the majority of this type of crime affects religious buildings like churches, the number of thefts from non-faith buildings, including schools, has increased and has now reached 18% of the total.
Metal thieves target buildings, pipelines, cabling and other infrastructure for valuable metals such as lead and copper which attract high prices as scrap. The level of theft is closely linked to the price of metals on world markets. David Bonehill, Ecclesiastical’s Claims and Risk Services Director said: “Schools have been and still are an attractive target for metal thieves and the long summer holiday period is a particular danger. The criminal gangs can enter empty schools and gain access to their roofs unobserved. If they are spotted, the thieves are often very good at passing themselves off as authorised contractors.
“During the summer, we’re warning schools to be as vigilant as possible and to make it as difficult as possible for thieves to gain entry to their premises. Nobody wants to return to school is September to find thousands of pounds worth of damage from stripped roofs and water ingress.” Ecclesiastical advises schools to take the following simple steps to protect themselves against theft of metal this summer: Ensure access to the school’s buildings and roofs is blocked or restricted as much as possible. Cut back shrubs, hedges and branches around the school to increase visibility of the school property. If any builders or contractors are scheduled to carry out work in the school grounds during holidays, inform neighbouring properties of these works. This way, if suspicious activity is taking place around the school any other time, the neighbours are able to alert the Police. Make use of security systems. e.g. locks, alarms, forensic solutions, etc.