(From Post Magazine)
More than GBP1m of plant and equipment is stolen every week in the UK and, although a 50 ton piece of kit - often in bright yellow livery - may not seem the easiest thing to pass on, less than 5% of plant stolen is recovered.
"Some plant theft, particularly for smaller items such as compressors and quad bikes, is opportunist but the majority is carried out by organised criminals," says Tim Purbrick, manager of The National Plant and Equipment Register. "We suspect that as much as GBP50m a year raised through plant theft is going into serious crime and there's also evidence of links to the funding of terrorist groups."
Lax security makes it relatively easy to steal too. Most bits of kit can be started with a universal key and few are fitted with security devices such as immobilisers and tracking systems. On top of this, there is often little security on the site to prevent thieves gaining access.
In spite of its size, plant can be relatively easily passed on. Without a formal registration system, many pieces of equipment are circulated around the UK but some plant will be shipped outside the country, with the Republic of Ireland, Middle East, Africa and Australia possible destinations. It may also be broken down for parts or used to perpetrate further crimes, such as the removal of cash machines or theft of other items of plant.
Furthermore, with the majority of plant stolen overnight, at weekends or during holiday periods, it can be long gone before anyone is aware it is missing, making the chances of recovery slim. "The main problem is that plant theft isn't a high priority for anyone involved, whether they're manufacturers, owners, users, the police or insurers," says Mr Purbrick.
Lack of security …