Funding by the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA) and other organisations is having a direct impact on the successful recovery of stolen plant equipment, says Police Superintendent Andy Huddleston who heads up the National Rural Crime Unit and the National Construction & Agriculture Theft Team (NCATT).

Late last year, the CPA made a three-year commitment to fund £90,000 to help fight plant equipment theft and fraud, which is costing the construction plant industry millions every year. With additional funding from the Construction Equipment Association (CEA), CESAR donors and insurers, a total of £650,000 is being contributed collectively to help fund NCATT - a specialist team of police officers that cover the whole of the country to help tackle the theft of construction plant and equipment by organised criminal groups.

Police Superintendent Andy Huddleston said: “Just one example of what we do was the excellent work to identify a lorry load of stolen plant and through police contacts stop it before it was loaded onto a ferry to be taken out of the country late one night. Eight stolen machines were found, including six that were taken from an auction site in Yorkshire. This comes directly on the back of the funding given to us by the CPA, CEA, CESAR donors and insurers. 

“The newly created NCATT is already making a huge difference in helping recover stolen plant which is becoming even more prevalent. In this calendar year up to April, we have successfully recovered stolen plant and equipment worth over £1.7m, and the total value of the unit’s recoveries in 2023 was over £6.1m. We are a small unit and whilst we can’t support every theft investigation, what we are able to do is making a tangible difference and I thank the industry for its crucial support in helping us do this,” he added.

Global events such as the conflict in Ukraine are driving up demand for stolen goods, with a 200% increase in the theft of construction plant and agricultural equipment in the UK. Prior to the war in Ukraine, between 40-70 high value machines were typically stolen in one month. But in a single month last year, over 200 machines were stolen nationwide and for the last 18 months thefts have been over 110 machines every month.

The CPA is also helping its members to recover stolen equipment by sharing information amongst its 1,900+ members. In a recent instance, all CPA members were notified of the theft of a low loader full of kit. Within 24 hours of the information being shared, the stolen equipment was found by a fellow CPA member, leading to its successful recovery and return to its rightful owner.

CPA President Brian Jones said: “It’s excellent news that our funding is helping lead to the recovery of stolen plant, which is a massive problem costing our industry huge amounts of money, stress and lost revenue. We have over 1,900 members at the CPA and we feel it’s very important that the membership funds go back towards helping them.

“Theft and fraud have a significant and increasingly damaging effect on our members’ businesses and our £90,000 contribution to the work of NCATT will bring immediate, tangible benefits to our members in preventing and detecting criminal activity and the recovery of illegally obtained plant-hire equipment.”