A revolutionary invention – developed with the help of ballistics experts – to safeguard against metal thieves is being launched at a North Yorkshire stately home this week.
Trace-in-Metal, which has been designed by a former West Yorkshire police detective, fires thousands of microdots into metal sheets “marking” them with a unique identifying code.
In addition to being impregnated into the metal, the dots – which are almost invisible to the naked eye – are also painted on to each sheet using an all-weather lacquer that shows up under ultra-violet light.
And, such is the science behind Trace-in-Metal, that even the smelting process cannot destroy the nickel dots and their unique tags.
Trace-in-Metal director John Minary said:
“We have been developing this unique anti-theft device for a number of years, and after successfully trialing it on a church in Huddersfield, we are now launching it nationwide.
“I’m proud to say it is a Yorkshire invention that utilises Swedish innovation and ballistics expertise. It is totally unique and we believe will revolutionise the way valuable metal, in particular lead, is protected from thieves.
“Metal theft is big business and the Home Office estimates it costs the UK economy around £220 million a year.
“With resourcing being an on-going problem for police forces, anything that helps in preventing crime and saving police time must be welcomed.
“We see Trace-in-Metal as a valuable weapon in the crime prevention arsenal, and one that will help protect historic buildings around the country.”
Mr Minary said that Government legislation introduced last year has tightened licensing controls, placing an onus on the dealers to improve record keeping and has strengthen enforcement powers.
He added that by working in parallel with the legislation Trace-in-Metal provides much needed traceability of the metals, which will help the legitimate dealers to refuse to buy stolen metals.
“Our service will help reduce the number of outlets where stolen metal can be sold,” he said.
Mr Minary added in addition to its anti-theft qualities, Trace-in-Metal is working with a large national insurer to provide improved insurance terms for buildings where the system is installed.
Ripley Castle owner Sir Thomas Ingilby Bt, who runs the Stately Home Hotline – which correlates and disseminates security intelligence to over 1500 UK heritage properties – said:
“Lead theft is a constant source of concern to every owner of a historic building, be they stately homes, boarding schools, public buildings or churches.
“Not only is lead very expensive to replace, the damage that can be caused by a theft can be incalculable.
“Often the insurance will not cover the costs of repairs and replacement, and the owners are left badly out of pocket.
“Trace-in-Metal is a very clever answer to an old problem, and one I’m sure that will be looked at seriously by the owners of historic buildings up and down the country.”