COLUMBUS (Sept. 9, 2015) The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that Ohio continues to lead the country in 2012-14 insurance metal theft claims. For the fourth consecutive year of this report, Ohio ranked first in the US in metal theft claims to insurance companies. NICB’s report for 2012-14 finds Ohio generated 4,438 metal theft claims, followed by Pennsylvania (2,770), Texas (2,379), New Jersey (2,192) and California (2,127).
In its report for 2012-14, the NICB reports US insured scrap metal theft claims declined 8 percent between 2012 and 2014. Of the 39,993 total claims in that period, the vast majority (98%) pertained to the theft of copper. Of these claims, 53% were personal insurance policy claims, with the remaining 47% were commercial claims. According to the NICB, a correlation was found to exist between the number of metal theft claims and copper prices.
Three Ohio metro areas ranked in the top 10 US cities for metal theft claims, according to the NICB’s 2012-14 Metal Theft Claims and Questionable Claim Referrals report:
6th Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN 903*
7th Cleveland-Elyria 895
9th Columbus 779
*Cincinnati metro area includes parts of KY & IN
Last year’s report had Ohio ranked first, with 4,144 metal theft claims for the reporting period of 2011-13. Ranking second through fifth were: Texas, California, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
The NICB indicates that while many more metal thefts occur than are reported to law enforcement agencies across the US, they do not necessarily trigger claims. According to the Ohio Insurance Institute (OII) if the damage is not covered by insurance or the loss is below or near the insurance policy’s deductible, it would likely not be a reported insurance claim.
According to the OII, efforts are underway to reverse the trend. Ohio’s scrap metal program, which fully launched earlier this year, will aid law enforcement in the identification of metal thefts, thieves and metal theft transactions. The program is the result of the passage of SB 193 in 2012. (See more on Ohio’s effort below)
Click here for NICB’s 2012-14 release, including additional resources.
Ohio efforts to combat metal theft
- Governor Kasich signed SB 193 into law in June 2012. Various provisions took effect on January 1, 2013 and others on January 1, 2014. Click here for details on law provisions and effective dates.
- Ohio currently operates a mandatory online registry for scrap metal and bulk merchandise container dealers on the Ohio Homeland Security’s website. The online registry aims to crack down on metal theft by focusing on the end point–scrap dealers and recycling facilities.
- Ohio scrap dealers are now required to report transactions through an electronic reporting system maintained by the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS).
Dealers are to send transactions to the ODPS by noon on the following business day.
- New rules went into effect on February 1, 2015 that are intended to assist law enforcement and the scrap metal industry in their efforts to combat the effects of scrap metal theft.
As part of Ohio’s Scrap Metal Law (SB 193) that was passed in the summer of 2012, use of searchable electronic lists–more commonly referred to as the “Do Not Buy List” and the Dealer Daily Transaction Database became a requirement for scrap metal dealers this year on February 1. The Daily Transaction Database mandates that every scrap dealer business provides written and photographic records of every business transaction that falls under the Ohio Revised Code.
The “Do Not Buy List” consists of names and other related information of individuals who have been convicted of theft offenses.
Scrap metal dealers will use this resource to ensure they are in compliance with Ohio law and it is also available to law enforcement officials to assist in investigations.
- In August 2015, Ohio’s new metal theft database was used in the investigation that lead to the arrest of thieves involved in a multi-jurisdiction theft ring in Jackson Township near Canton. 14 aluminum molds with a value of $230,000 were stolen from a local manufacturing plant.
- For more information on Ohio’s law and program, see these resources:
–Ohio Homeland Security: New rules go into effect on February 1 to thwart scrap metal theft
–Ohio Homeland Security: Scrap metal materials
—Ohio Revised Code 4737.04: Identifies what is scrap metal; establishes certain reporting criteria for scrap metal dealers; how it’s to be reported when purchased; who to buy from and not allowed to buy from.
–Ohio Department of Public Safety: Ohio’s Scrap Metal Law
Ohio scrap metal info by the numbers
- Ohio metal theft claims by year (Source: NICB)
|Year||Ohio metal theft claims|
- 437: Number of scrap dealers in Ohio as 0f June 3, 2015. (Source: Ohio Department of Public Safety, 2015 Annual Report)
- $250: First-time registration fee for Ohio scrap metal dealers to support Ohio’s online database (yearly renewal fee is $150) (Source: Marion Star)
- 2012-14 metal theft claims by major Ohio city (Source: NICB)
|City||2012 claims||2013 claims||2014 claims||TOTAL|
- NEW! 2012-14 metal theft claims by Ohio city (xls format)
Metal theft targets and insurance aspects
Homes that are either vacant and/or foreclosed and those that are for-sale and unoccupied are typical targets for metal theft. Offenders break in and strip them of copper pipes and wiring.
Large commercial air conditioning systems that are not secured are also susceptible to theft.
Some metal theft operations have been known to damage infrastructure systems such as railroads, schools, telecommunications and emergency response. Power outages have also been reported.
As to why Ohio continues to be the top state for theft claims, the Ohio Insurance Institute is left to speculation. According to the OII, Ohio insurers may be more conscientious in their claims reporting practices, meaning that more of these thefts are being tracked and reported by Ohio insurers than in other parts of the country.
These findings show that that businesses, homeowners and others file for more insurance claims here than in other states, which could also be due in part to higher levels of loss and damages. When a metal theft loss is near or below a policy’s deductible, it may not be enough to warrant a claim or be reported to an insurer.
Typical commercial deductibles, which come into play in these claims, range from $500-1,000 for small business owners and up to $5,000 for mid-sized and large businesses.
OII also advises homeowners who are planning to sell their home or otherwise become vacant to check insurance coverages. In certain cases, a listed home may be considered unoccupied by some insurers. Some insurance companies will continue to insure a home as an occupied dwelling for a set period of time — such as 30 to 60 days — under certain criteria. In a situation where the standard homeowners insurance policy is no longer an option, insurers offer coverage, which is usually limited to fire, lightning and similar losses. See this OII release for more: Coverage for vacant or for-sale homes.
Business measures to deter metal theft
Many insurers advise their business clients to look at installing theft deterrent systems or alarms to their air conditioning systems. A number of HVAC contractors offer them and run about $500-750 to install. Homeowners may be able to add them to their home monitoring systems as well. Video surveillance and security lighting serve as good deterrents too.
To reduce the risk, businesses can take measures including:
- Install a security camera with a video recorder and store the recordings.
- Secure all equipment and scrap metals in locked buildings or in well-lit areas secured by fencing. Consider a perimeter security system with contact alarms or motion detectors, or install a six-foot perimeter fence with barbed wire at the top (as permitted by local regulations) that has locked gates.
- Post “No Trespassing” placards or signs indicating the presence of a surveillance or security system.
- Remove items that promote access to buildings and roofs such as trees, ladders, scaffolding and dumpsters.
- Secure access to the building with deadbolts and door and window locks.
- Trim or remove shrubbery or other landscaping that allows criminals to hide from view on your property.
- Increase exterior lighting and protect fixtures (such as AC units) with locked metal cages.
- Mark metals, AC units and other items with the company’s name using paint, hard-to-remove decals or engraving equipment.
- Make sure someone is present when supplies such as copper, wiring or pipe are delivered to a job site so they can be immediately secured.
- Avoid lengthy storage of supplies. The longer metal is onsite and unused, the longer it’s at risk for theft.
- Develop a relationship with local law enforcement. Ask for their guidance in preventing metal theft at your business and what to do if a theft occurs.
- Create a master list of equipment and bulk metal (if applicable) and include pictures. Provide the list to your insurance company/agent and law enforcement officials to aid in theft recovery.
- If you have a metal theft, call the police immediately so that local recyclers and scrap dealers are alerted. Be sure to preserve the crime scene, including tire tracks, shoe tracks and fingerprints. This evidence could be used to help prosecute the thieves if they are caught.
(Source: Nationwide Insurance)
- NICB 2012-14 metal theft claims release
- NICB 2012-14 Metal Theft Claims and Questionable Claim Referrals report
- NICB 2012-14 state by state metal theft claims report
- NICB: 2012-14 metal theft claims by Ohio city (xls format)
- OII May 2014 news release
- OII May 2013 news release
- OII release: Coverage for vacant or for-sale homes
- Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries: State laws to combat metal theft
NOTE: Ohio info: Page 203