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Has Plant theft affected your business during the pandemic?

It is largely accepted that the UK Construction sector has been affected less by the pandemic than other business sectors, but theft of plant and machinery is at an all-time high. Recent statistics reveal that plant and tool theft increased by 50% in the first few months of the pandemic shut down which initially was not helped by sites being mothballed and plant being left on site.  However, rather than the number of thefts decreasing since lockdown eased this continues to be a growing problem and the industry is struggling to protect itself against criminal activity.

In addition to losses due to theft, site owners are also suffering from vandalism on site and a new threat “urban exploration” where gangs of intruders are gaining access to sites to perform stunts which they share on social media causing damage and disruption whilst they are there.

Theft of plant and machinery has always been an issue for the construction sector with estimates in the region of £400m worth of machinery being stolen in the UK every year but the events of the last year have exacerbated the problem giving organised crime gangs the perfect opportunity to target construction sites which can often be left vulnerable rather than targeting what has historically been their preferred option – sports cars of the same value.  In addition to this, the delays in production caused by the pandemic have increased the value of second-hand equipment making it easy to sell for a profit and with plant generally being difficult to track and recover there is no real deterrent. 

Budget cuts have left the police under resourced making it difficult for them to allocate time to trying to retrieve stolen plant. In fact, they often do not even visit the scene to investigate due to lack of resources.  Consequently, owners are looking more and more to other methods to prevent loss which includes CCTV, trackers, more sophisticated keys and locking systems on plant, plant safes etc.  Trackers with in-built immobilisation is the most technologically advanced method of protecting plant at the present time with a system that alerts the owner if the plant is moved whilst the ignition is turned off.

It is estimated that the UK construction industry loses more than £800 million a year due to theft when considering all the associated costs including the plant replacement, hire of alternative equipment, loss of business and increased insurance premiums. Whilst this has a detrimental effect on all sizes of business, it is the SMEs that face the biggest risk potentially leaving them struggling to survive.

Options to assist with security are as follows:

  • Register with the National Plant and Equipment Register
  • Heras fencing helps visibility on site making it more difficult for thieves to work unnoticed
  • Security Guards and or a security post to regulate visitors
  • Good quality portable lighting
  • CCTV, alarm systems, plant safes and site offices
  • Remove ignition keys and immobilise equipment when not in use
  • Register equipment with the CESAR marking scheme to increase chance of recovery

ProAktive are available to assist with plant cover and claims. Please contact us for further information.

By Jo Elliott ACII Chartered Insurance Broker & Account Executive 







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