ABAX Smart Connect

Most stolen machinery and plant: how at risk is your fleet? Pt 1.

Machinery and equipment theft continues to plague the UK, with millions of pounds worth of construction plant equipment being stolen each month with HSB, less than 10% of it is ever recovered.

According to research published by the Federation of Master Builders, eight in ten builders have fallen victim to the crime. With equipment becoming ever more technically advanced, the value of the items stolen is increasing all the time. Whilst it is predicted that the average builder will typically experience the loss of £10,000 of tools in their career, the CLA (membership organisation for owners of land, property and businesses in rural England and Wales), reports that in 2019, “tractors and machinery to the value of £9.3 million were stolen – a 25% increase on the previous year”.  

Further to this, HDI report that construction site theft is a problem growing worldwide, with annual losses estimated at over $1 billion in the United States, at over €1.5 billion in European countries, and around $650 million in Australia. 

There are many possible factors driving the rise of machinery and plant theft, but a few recognised by Alliianz include the reduction in police resource, wealth inequality, the rise in organised crime and the advancement in technology.

According to insight from insurance company Allianz, these are some of the categories of machinery and equipment that have the highest frequency of theft claims:


1. Tools 

Tool theft is on the increase - not just from organised crime, but through opportunistic thefts. The physical size of some hand tools means that they’re easy and discreet to steal. Often, tools are left in a van, which can fall victim to theft itself, resulting in the tools being stolen as a by-product from the primary crime. However, for some thieves, it is what’s inside the vans that is most appealing and this can have devastating effects for construction companies and small business owners.  

According to Allianz, 46% of thefts had resulted in the side panel of the van being broken or pierced or prised open, 23% had windows smashed and 22% involved locks being picked.

Not only does tool theft result in the cost of replacement, it can also have a huge emotional effect on the owner and cause financial loss during the recovery/reporting process. Tool tracking technology like ABAX is advancing all the time and discreet and easy to fit GPS tracking devices are an effective way to secure tools and other unpowered assets. 


2. Surveying equipment

According to RICS, “thieves often target high-value instrumentation by posing as professionals, wearing hi-vis clothing and personal protective equipment.” With the typical cost of a piece of equipment being around £20,000, theft of this equipment is a serious issue. Multi-disciplinary survey business, SUMO suggests that in their experience, most thefts occur around the London area, where there is a lot of ongoing construction works.  

As with all thefts, the impact on a company that has had its equipment stolen can be huge – both financially and operationally. It can result in companies losing business and having to increase their charges to recoup the losses. 


3. Excavators and diggers

Apart from their re-sale value, the motivation behind the theft of diggers and excavators has been linked to other serious crimes.

Allianz identifies that “stolen excavators have also been used to rip out ATM machines from walls”.  

Once in the thief’s possession, the sale, often via the dark web, can be quick and the criminals disappear with the proceeds. By fitting a plant tracking system to construction equipment, recovery is more likely. The theft can often be identified much quicker, and the location of the equipment can be shared with the police.  


Criminals are less likely to take tools and equipment with a tool tracking device installed, as this increases their chances of being caught. ABAX offers easy to install, robust and discreet GPS tracking solutions, which come with a Lifetime Warranty and 24/7 support as standard.  

For businesses operating a mixed fleet of vehicles and assets, they can now get location and usage data in one place with ABAX Smart Connect. With a single log in, all assets from world-leading manufacturers can be quickly located on the same screen. Using the ABAX mobile app, instant access is also available on a mobile device, 24/7. To learn more about our range of systems and all of the benefits of the system, get in touch with us today.