What are asset-stripping thieves looking for in an empty commercial property?


Having a commercial property lay vacant is leaving it subject to a high risk of theft and damage.

Particularly during winter months, the rates of theft occurring in empty commercial properties rises. Due to demand from overseas markets for materials such as metal, these are often among the first things to be stripped from a vacant premises. In fact, according to the Vacant Property Specialists, the pillaging of metals is one of the quickest growing UK crimes. It is also one of the priciest, costing the country an estimated £770 million a year.

According to Aviva, of the £2 billion worth of damage done to property in the UK through vandalism and arson, 25 per cent of it relates to vacant properties. While you may not be able to prevent a property from becoming vacant, there are certain things you can remove from it once this is the case to lessen it’s appeal to thieves:

Electrical and copper pipes

Copper in particular is especially appealing to thieves. Copper can be used to make a number of items, ranging from plumbing accessories to fibre optics, and so it is a valuable metal to hark on black markets. Although the stock price of copper has dropped to a six-year low in September, it is still seen as a versatile and therefore valuable scrap metal, and so the profits associated with it’s theft are tempting.


Also among the fastest-growing insurance claims, radiator theft is a rising concern. The metal can again be of interest to a number of parties, and so anything that can be easily detached from the wall is likely to be taken.


Particularly in the winter months, there is an increase in generator theft throughout the UK. In fact, they are in such high demand, properties don’t even necessarily need to be vacant; in 2013, over £150,000 worth of generators was stolen from an industrial estate in Merseyside after thieves raided the property overnight, entering through a disused and therefore unwatched back gate.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, unwanted visitors to a vacant commercial property will lift any piece of technology along with any electronics left lying around. Even if not functional, the parts of the device can be sold and used, and therefore the electronic in question still has value.

Final thoughts:

The longer nights and colder weather of the winter months sees an uptick of theft carried out under the cover of darkness. If you own a vacant property, consider having motion-sensor lighting installed outdoors to deter potential thieves from attempting to gain entry. You should also consult with a specialist security company regarding the installation of other deterrents and safety measures to keep your property secure.


Written by: Charlotte Peel on Wednesday 14/09/2016