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Surge in solar panel thefts prompts security warning

By David G Scott

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A rise in solar crime should act as a call to action for eco-conscious homeowners to check their security and insurance, an expert has warned.

James Cuthbertson, of rural insurance broker, Lycetts, issued the advice after police figures revealed a 48 per cent rise in solar panel and cabling theft from 2021 to 2022.

“Thefts are not limited to large-scale and commercial solar farms,” he said.

Solar panel theft is on the increase.
Solar panel theft is on the increase.

“Increased energy prices, the ‘cost of living’ crisis, and the fact that properties with solar panels attract eco-conscious buyers, have contributed to a growth in residential solar panel installations.”

Homeowners typically install between 10 and 15 panels, with a value of around £7000. With more than 1.4 million solar panels already in domestic properties – a figure that is expected to rise – criminals have realised a lucrative opportunity.

Cuthbertson said: “Although copper cabling in the stolen panels can make money for thieves, panels are often easier and quicker to steal, and can be easily advertised online and sold on the black market.”

James Cuthbertson.
James Cuthbertson.

He has recommended a number of measures that could help deter potential thieves. These included CCTV cameras, security marking, alarms, security lighting, security fencing, and anti-climb barriers.

Remote properties in rural areas are particularly vulnerable, especially to opportunistic thieves.

Domestic installations of solar panels are usually considered as ‘permanent home fixtures’ by insurance companies, provided they are located on roof tops, and not on the ground.

Cuthbertson added: “Ensuring you have adequate cover on your existing home insurance policy to cover the cost of replacements should not result in any significant increases for premiums.

However, it is important to seek expert advice from an experienced insurer.”

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