ABAX Man chacking his equipment

Machinery & asset theft - will asset tracking provide the protection you need?

Businesses of every size and stature are all aware of the ‘new normal’ that we are currently having to adapt to. However, what may have not yet crossed our mind is that, unfortunately, the criminal fraternity is also creating their own ‘new normal’.

COVID19 forced us to change our habits, presenting a lucrative opportunity to criminals, who quickly seized it – leading to a 50% increase in theft of plant machinery and equipment in the UK. Here's how fleet managers and business owners can fight back using the latest technology.

What does the data tell us?

Leading insurer Allianz Cornhill published a study that found over £70 million of construction plant assets, including excavators, compressors and even cranes, are stolen annually in the UK. 

As shown in the report, it is not only the cost of the stolen machinery that impacts your business, but also the loss of earnings attributed to the item not being available. In many cases, this renders businesses unable to complete the required job – also contributing to long-term brand damage and ultimately, profits. 

It estimates that the UK construction industry is now losing over £800 million a year, once the other costs associated with plant & machinery theft are taken into account.

The messages to business throughout the pandemic have been centred around ‘innovation’ – but this message has not gone unnoticed by those with ill-intent, also pivoting their approach and processes.

Alliance Cornhill’s report also uncovered the fact that criminals are becoming ever more sophisticated and confident in the methods they use to deceive, even posing as plant maintenance workers in order to remove vehicles from site. Low loaders have been cloned in the livery of a hire firm, fitted with false plates, and arrived on customer sites to collect the machinery. 

More than 35% of building and construction companies have experienced theft of Plant & Machinery, with in the last 12 months according to the Kroll Global Fraud Report. 

Why does this problem with asset and equipment theft exist?

Put simply, the theft of plant machinery and assets often occurs due to a combination of plentiful opportunity, low risk and high financial reward. 

The Plant and Agricultural National Intelligence Unit’s latest figures report mini excavators and diggers as the plant assets stolen most frequently. These are, by their nature, very manoeuvrable, can be transported with minimal non-specialist equipment and the second-hand market is very buoyant – both in the UK and Eastern Europe. It’s easy to see this is an incredibly lucrative opportunity for thieves. 

For obvious logistical reasons, plant machinery is often left on job sites. Remote sites are a target for thieves, as well as sites with low levels of security and even residential addresses where hire equipment is often inadequately stored, due to the physical restrictions of working on a residential site. 

VPS reports that around 500 items of plant machinery and assets are stolen every month with remote and rural construction sites being hardest hit.

There is a long-standing practice of leaving keys in or near to machinery that is regularly in use – specially to facilitate multiple operators using the same plant machinery. Thieves familiar with the construction industry, or even the construction firm or site itself, are wise to these time saving practices and look to make gains where opportunities arise through lax procedures.

Equipment such as buckets, breakers and generators are regularly left unsecured on locked sites overnight. These, along with trailers used to transport mini plant equipment, assets and machinery are also a target for the criminals they have an intrinsic value in their own right, but also afford a method of removing the ‘main prize’ of the mini excavator or digger. Although gates are often padlocked securely, easy access can be gained from the site perimeter. Criminals then make easy work of stealing the machinery using a trailer, whilst more portable items and equipment are easily concealed in the back of a van.

It is not all bad news however, as DC Chris Piggot (NaVCIS) explains “Consider a tracking device. Those that run on multi frequencies and have a back-up battery have come down in price significantly. Some even let you set operational hours and geo fences”

How can asset tracking help?

Asset tracking as part of fleet management is the process of tracking the location any items, in this case high value plant equipment and machinery, helping businesses to locate and recover these items, should they be targeted by thieves. 

This can be done in a number of ways. Our asset tracking system offers exceptional reliability using a combination of GPS, GPRS and GSM, providing users with a live location that can be accessed on desktop, and mobile. Asset tracking provides a full and comprehensive view of the location of plant machinery, equipment, and assets. 

Its easy to see how this live map plays a crucial role in the recovery of stolen assets, ultimately preventing loss of earnings and leaving businesses to be another statistic in industry reports on theft. 

With an ABAX Plant & Machinery tracking Solution, you’ll have 24/7 control over your plant machinery and equipment with accurate GPS tracking. This affords peace of mind, that in case of lost, misplaced or stolen equipment, you have an additional layer of protection to help you recover your valuable assets. To learn more about asset tracking with ABAX, take a look at our plant tracking page, or contact a member of the team.

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