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London cops plan plant theft hit squad to cut crime in capital

PLANT

THE METROPOLITAN Police plans to form a specialist team to tackle plant theft in the London area, using the Proceeds of Crime Act to seize assets from the criminals it catches.

The Met has been working with the industry-wide Plant Theft Action Group to come up with ways to cut plant crime and improve recoveries.

The specialist 'proactive' team would offer the industry advice on how to reduce crime as well as tackling the criminals themselves. The size of the team is likely to depend on the amount of funding it can get from the construction industry.

Among other proposals are a registration and marking scheme that would see every piece of machinery issued with a unique number, visible from the road and the air. The Met intends the scheme to help both police and f leet managers to keep track of their kit.

It is now assessing tenders from firms that will provide a database, with their income based on charging f leet owners for registering.

But the proposals have been treated with caution by those in the plant theft industry.

One expert said: 'We are naturally in favour of any measures to reduce theft, but the marking scheme is still voluntary, and the industry needs something compulsory to get it moving.'