In recent years, major advances have been made with regards to reducing the risk of plant theft. Thousands of plant machines are now protected by CESAR (Construction & Agricultural Equipment Security and Registration Scheme) marking and the Thatcham security rating has without question had a positive influence, however the fact remains that plant theft is still a major problem for plant hirers, contractors and other owners of plant machinery.
The increase in construction crime rates hasn’t been helped by COVID-19 where the closing of sites in early 2020 saw plant theft from sites increase by around 50%. In the first two weeks of March 2020 the Construction Equipment Association (CEA), owners of the CESAR scheme – the plant marking and registration initiative – reported a marked increase in plant and tool theft from both vehicles and site compounds due to COVID-19 site closures. Although 2021 has not seen the same closures in the construction industry, a renewed interest in the sector by criminal gangs and opportunists means that they are still under threat.
Construction site theft costs the industry millions every year, with not only the equipment replacement costs to consider, but also loss of productivity and contract delays, interim plant hire fees and potentially increased insurance costs too. Optimising the security measures put in place on a construction site is crucial and investment of resources in this will always be recouped in the long run.
Since 2004, AMI Group has recognised the problem of plant theft and established its business based on the concept of devising effective and cost-efficient plant tracking and security solutions. At present, over £250 million worth of customer assets are protected with AMI Group systems, including several of the UK’s national plant hirers and construction companies. So far this year Mini excavators have been identified as a ‘hot’ target for plant criminals.
Peter Stockton, Operations Director at AMI Group said: “The review we carried out revealed a marked increase in the theft of mini excavators from both construction sites and customer depots. This equipment tends to be smaller in size than much of the larger plant machinery so it is easier for criminals to conceal and transport in a panel van. Thieves may automatically presume that mini excavators don’t have a tracking device fitted so it is an easier option than larger kit which is more likely to have telematics fitted.”
In recognition that thieves are becoming increasingly sophisticated, AMI Group has developed multiple solutions including the smallest, most covert devices in the industry, making them far more difficult for thieves to locate. As well as helping AMI customers recover their own plant, the company’s devices have also helped the Police to recover thousands of pounds of construction equipment not protected with an anti-theft deterrent.
In a recent recovery, a £25,000 valued 1 Ton Terex Dumper owned by an AMI customer was successfully retrieved in London thanks to the AMI anti-theft system, and it also led the Police to several other items of construction machinery stored in an isolated rural area including a CAT Mini Excavator, a Trailer and a Volvo Digger. Together, the haul of recovered plant equipment was valued at over £100,000 and was retrieved following a successful cross-country operation involving AMI Group, a major plant hire company and the MET Police.
The UKs only triple layers solution is the AMI Asset+ Keypad, the solution includes a wired-in asset management unit with keypad immobilisation, and a battery-operated unit designed for after theft recovery, giving the user the ultimate solution. The keypad immobiliser provides a robust and secure driver/operator authentication system to prevent theft, unauthorised usage whilst also only allowing qualified personnel operational access. Locking down the asset until an authorised code is typed into the keypad. This works alongside the VT tracking solution offering the ultimate barrier in theft prevention.
AMI tracking devices are used in conjunction with AMI Nexis, a web-based platform and mobile APPs whereby customers can log on to the system to not only use it as an anti-theft deterrent but as a total fleet management solution. Customers can use the system to help reduce their fuel costs, reduce their carbon footprint or enhance productivity - and they can even remotely immobilise equipment from their mobile phones. Following months of development work and consultation with customers, the AMI Nexis portal has recently been enhanced to empower AMI customers with more information than ever before to help locate and manage plant equipment and vehicle fleets more efficiently and safely.