IOM3 calls time on metal theft

IOM3
,
31 Jul 2012

The Institute of
Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) has received funding to continue the
development of an innovative Signature Materials method to tackle the ever-growing problem of metal
theft. IOM3 has developed a unique metal signature which, together with an
accessible national register provides a solution to a crime that has cost the
UK economy an estimated ¾ billion pounds a year.

British Transport
Police and government bodies including the Home Office, the Technology Strategy
Board (TSB) and The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) have
joined forces to work with the Institute to face the evolving problem in the
UK.

The
rate of metal theft has been rising steadily in recent years. Commodity metals,
including copper, aluminium and lead, have all seen significant increases in
value over the last three years. 
This is widely acknowledged as the primary cause for the increase in
theft activity. Church buildings have been badly affected to the extent that
the main insurer for the Church of England, has reported more than 2,500 claims
from churches last year.

Bernie Rickinson, Chief Executive of IOM3, confirms that the new mark captured within a National
Register can be traced by police within a matter of minutes. He said, ‘As a
result of public concern, and with the support of government bodies and UK
materials businesses, new ideas and concepts have been developed to deter metal
theft.  Having prioritised a number
of potential solutions, we feel we have now reached a stage to broaden the work
and this funding will help to accelerate the development.’

This
rapid traceability of the metal to the site of a theft has previously been a
major problem. With the new marks, there is no ambiguity – thieves can be
traced immediately. Currently at
demonstration stage, the new process is intended to be applied to Heritage
sites from the Autumn of this year.

Commissioning
of the demonstration unit is expected to be complete in August, and patent
protection has been sought to assist in future development of the technology.