The Construction Equipment Association (CEA) has reported a marked increase in plant and tool theft from both vehicles and site compounds across the United Kingdom in the first two weeks after government restrictions due to Coronavirus were announced.

Fake ID-plate on Cat D9

A fake ID-plate on a Cat D0 recovered in the west of England

According to sharp spike in thefts is largely due to construction firms and contractors temporarily scaling down work and shutting job sites due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

However, as the owner of the Cesar plant marking and registration initiative, the CEA and others involved in the scheme say it is possible to help prevent plant and tool theft, or at least to assist police with the recovery and identification of stolen kit.

“As a result of the Coronavirus situation, some construction sites have been forced to close, and personnel, including on-site security, have left. Under these circumstances, organised criminal gangs may try to exploit the situation,” said David Smith, chairman of Combined Industries Theft Solutions.

“Where construction plant and equipment has been left on-site, it is hoped that the police will be as vigilant as ever. Any unusual activity, on or near construction sites which have closed, needs to be investigated. This also applies to any unusual transport movements for construction plant, for example, during an unusual time, or if the vehicle is moving numerous items of plant belonging to different companies.”

Recovered Volvo

This stolen Volvo was sold to, and subsequently seized from, a private buyer who lost his both asset and his money

DC Chris Piggott, rural vehicle crime intelligence officer, NAVCIS (National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service), added: “Many construction vehicles now have so-called smart keys containing electronic information needed to start the machine, so it’s vital that keys are removed from machines and stored securely in a remote location.”

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