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Filter confusion leaves clean air plans in doubt

The Metropolitan Police's recently announced operation to deter and capture plant thieves will cost around £180,000 a year to fund, it has emerged.

This would need to be met largely by the construction and insurance sectors in the first years of operation.

The Met's squad, which has the working title of Plant Proactive Operational Team (Plant Pot), will be staffed by five detectives and be based in Chalk Farm, North London.

The team, which will work in the same offices as the Stolen Vehicle squad, has been formed in the belief that the number of criminal syndicates using plant theft for quick cash or to launder money is quite small, and so can be addressed by a focused operation.

Among the plans to crack down in the Met's area are financial investigations of suspicious companies, direct patrolling of high-profile and vulnerable sites and decoy operations.

The Met has also proposed a marking and identification scheme, which would operate nationally, allowing police and the industry to identify suspicious plant movements. But manufacturers have stressed that they need to thrash out a number of issues to ensure that the idea is successful.

The Construction Equipment Association's technical spokesman, Tim Faithfull, said: 'Our members represent manufacturers from a range of countries, with a range of protocols for marking and identification, so we intend to meet with the police to ensure that the process is carefully thought-through.'

  • Plant registration firm TER has launched a range of fluorescent pink decals for plant owners so that police can be alerted to suspicious transportation of equipment during the night.
  • The Police Stop Me stickers, costing £2 each plus VAT, invite the police to stop any vehicle moving plant between 8 pm and 5 am and to phone the TER hotline for further investigation.

    TER manager Tim Purbrick said. 'They are made from ultra-destruct material, which makes them very difficult to remove.'

    The TER pledged to donate 10 per cent of the sales to Breast Cancer Care.

    By Andrew Gaved