New research by Durapipe UK has revealed almost three-quarters of contractors in the building services industry have suffered the effects of metal thefts.
New cases of metal thefts are hitting the headlines daily, with the latest figures suggesting they are costing the UK economy £770 million a year.
Almost half of those surveyed (45 per cent) revealed they have experienced metal thefts from site in the last six months, compared with only 14 per cent reporting incidents 12 months ago.
Copper pipework, in particular, is one of the most common products to be stolen from construction projects, which is resulting in costly setbacks for contractors who are looking to meet strict budgets and deadlines.
This is causing a reassessment of pipework specifications to help combat the issue, with one in four of those questioned revealing they have changed a specification from copper or steel to plastic to negate the problem of metal thefts.
The new research may explain the emerging shift in the choice of material for pipework specifications, which has seen plastic pipework rapidly increasing its market share for building services applications over the last couple of years.
Plastic has no scrap value so the risk of theft is completely eradicated, making it a cost effective solution for projects.
Commenting on its latest research, Durapipe UK marketing manager Mitchell Holmes said: “It is startling to see just how many people are being affected by metal thefts up and down the country.
“We are speaking to contractors on a daily basis about converting copper and steel specifications to plastics as they try to limit the risk.
“However, it is still surprising to see so many within the industry suffering the effects of stolen metal, when simply specifying an alternative material completely eradicates the threat.”