The first May bank Holiday weekend of 2010 was marked by a spate of plant theft, according to alerts issued by the Construction Plant Hire Association.
Three alerts were distributed for equipment stolen between 30 April and 2 May, while a further two alerts were issued for thefts taking place immediately after the weekend.
Thieves made off with a JCB 3CX from Mark Firth Plant Hire, a Hitachi three tonne mini-digger from contractors L&W, a model 2T trailer hot box from Proetus Equipment, a Volvo EC15B from Radcot Plant, and a Terex PT5000S five tonne dumper from J Matthews Plant Hire.
CPA safety and training manager Hadyn Steel says that bank holidays could prove a particularly busy times for thieves. “A site will usually be shut for three days because it’s a bank holiday. Thieves know there will be limited security on site,” he says. “They’ll target sites which are poorly secured.” He adds that some thefts take place through the thieves disguising themselves as a legitimate plant hire operation coming to collect equipment, deceiving security staff.
Another theft method which is growing in prominence, according to the Plant and Agricultural National Intelligence Unit, is bogus hiring. The trend has been for the hirer to deliver an item of machinery to a vacant lot, where it is collected by thieves disguised as a reception committee. As soon as the item is delivered and the hire company has left the scene, the machines are then moved on and never seen again.
PANIU says that it is currently investigating a number of cases involving bogus hirers calling themselves Peppiatt Contracts and Demowaste of Leeds. Peppiatt Contracts is also the name of a legitimate interior fit-out company based in Kent which has played no role at all in the thefts. The company has been the victim of impersonation.
Mr Steel says firms should look at several systems to help reduce the risk of theft. “There isn’t one single action you can take that will stop plant theft. If you’re looking at fitting a security system, don’t just fit one. Fit two different systems and register the equipment with CESAR,” he says.
According to Mr Steel, some firms are put off from fitting security systems because of the capital expenditure. “If you’ve bought a £6,000 car, even then you would ensure it had an immobiliser and a steering wheel lock, and you would park it in a secure location,” he says. “If you’d do all this for a car, you absolutely should for a £40,000 piece of equipment that also represents your livelihood.”