Preston ranks second in the UK for thefts of building materials

Arrows on the Skyline of Preston Pic: Tony Worrall

Research has found that Preston has had the highest number of building material thefts in Lancashire over the past five years and is the city with the second highest figures in the UK.


Construction experts Roofing Megastore have made Freedom of Information requests to police forces across the UK to uncover the most reported locations.

Lancashire took the top spot, with 2,712 reported copper and lead cases stolen since 2017, and Preston (482 thefts), Burnley (331 thefts) and Nelson (263 thefts) are the top three cities with the most thefts .

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Gian-Carlo Grossi, Managing Director of Roofing Megastore, said: “The first step when you find out you have been robbed is always to report it to the police, either by phone or online.

“Following this, you will need to determine what impact the missing lead may have on your property. For example, a missing seal, especially if it is located at abutment against a wall, could quickly lead to water infiltration.

“If left unchecked, it could easily cost thousands of pounds to fix and can also cause structural problems over time.”

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Lancashire’s top 25 towns with the most reported thefts from 2017 to 2022

Police forces in Lancashire, Cleveland and Kent reported the most thefts of building materials.

Northern areas of the UK have reported the highest number of copper and lead thefts, with Lancashire Police ranking first, with 2,712 crimes reported between 2017 and 2022.

Three other northern counties feature in the top five – Cleveland, Northumbria and South Yorkshire, each reporting more than 1,300 thefts in the same period.

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In sixth to 10th place are areas covering the Midlands, with Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire police areas coming in seventh, eighth and 10th.

Grossi said: “When it comes to protecting the exterior of your home and deterring building material thieves, there are a few options – one of the most effective would be an alarm and CCTV system.

“Not only can this deter would-be thieves, but the images can add a lot of clarity when reporting the crime.

“Understandably, this may not be a preferred method for many, especially if you only have a small amount of copper or lead on your roof.”

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Grossi said a cheaper alternative is a dummy camera, but experienced burglars can often spot them.

Roofing Megastore said dusk-to-dawn lighting can also ward off would-be thieves, and motion sensors are “a good investment,” with infrared sensors only turning lights on when needed “to keep costs low”.

Grossi said, “To help make these lights effective, you also need to be careful to reduce trees and other vegetation, maximizing your natural lookout.”

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In Lancashire, Preston, Burnley and Nelson are the three main towns where building material thefts have been most reported.

In Lancashire, Preston, Burnley and Nelson are the top three towns, with almost 500 in Preston, 300 in Burnley and just over 250 in Nelson.

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