Police Scotland’s Rural and Acquisitive Crime Unit comes to locations across the Highlands to advise plant owners on how to avoid theft.
The Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA) has been working hard with Police Scotland’s Rural and Acquisitive Crime Unit since the launch of the Scottish Partnership Against Acquisitive Crime (SPAACE) in May 2023, aimed at tackling plant and fuel theft across Scotland.
Front and central to this awareness campaign is a Police Scotland liveried JCB 3CX which visited Elgin (15th January), Inverness (18th January) and is heading to Fort William (22nd January) for information events this month.
Highland Industrial Supplies (HIS) is hosting the events at its depots across the region.
The events come as shocking figures reveal the extent of the challenge that still lies ahead to tackle plant and fuel theft:
- Acquisitive crime has continued to increase compared to the same period last year and is now higher than the five-year mean*.
- Between April and September 2023, there were 5,178 more crimes compared to the same period last year and 6,239 more than the five-year mean.
- Theft of motor vehicles (which covers all mechanically propelled vehicles from a private car to a dump truck) has reached the highest levels recorded during the reporting period, increasing by 13.3% in 2022/23 and up by 11.3% so far for 2023/24 – this equates to an average of 14 thefts of motor vehicles a day.
- Between 01/04/2022 and 31/03/2023, the Lothians and the Scottish Borders, closely followed by the North East of Scotland, were the most targeted areas for acquisitive crime.
- Between 01/04/2022 and 31/03/2023, theft of agricultural and forestry machinery, plant and quad bike/ATVs was the most frequent crime.
- May and June 2022 were the two most prolific months for acquisitive crime.
The full crime report can be accessed here.
The free information events organised by the SPOA since the initiative launched have been well attended.
The biggest fear expressed by plant owners attending the events is the total loss of an asset.
Not only is losing a piece of plant costly, but there may also be significant knock-on costs if it cannot be replaced quickly where work is delayed and penalty costs are sometimes added to a job.
Equally, when it comes to fuel theft, often the damage done to take the fuel exceeds the costs of the stolen fuel itself.
Advice given to plant owners has been welcomed with many stating they simply do not know where to turn to for up-to-date advice.
Frustration at a lack of follow up from the police after thefts are reported has also been expressed.
Inspector Jordan Low from Police Scotland’s National Rural and Acquisitive Crime Unit said:
“The theft of plant equipment and vehicles from rural properties, construction sites or other locations significantly impacts that business’ operations and can have knock-on effects that are felt by the wider public.
“There is no such thing as a victimless crime.
“Acquisitive crime overall is experiencing a rise in recorded incidents at present and Police Scotland is committed to working alongside relevant partners to address this increase and prevent further offences arising by empowering rural and construction businesses to consider appropriate security measures on and around their premises.
“I would encourage anyone who is looking to enhance their security provisions, or who is seeking out crime prevention advice, to visit our website at www.scotland.police.uk.”
Callum Mackintosh, Immediate Past President and instrumental in the SPOA’s partnership with SPAACE, added:
“Whilst we have had a great response to this initiative, the latest statistics show that there is still a lot of work to do.
“I’d also like to take this opportunity to stress the importance of reporting theft to the police.
“The more information available on these crimes the better as it helps the police to spot patterns and encourages plant owners to be extra vigilant.
“The SPOA is grateful to Police Scotland’s Rural and Acquisitive Crime Unit for its support in staffing these information events and providing clear and actionable advice to plant owners.
“Working closely with Police Scotland has also been beneficial to create better understanding and awareness of the types of machinery used in our industry, which aids detection when items are stolen.
“Once again, we would like to acknowledge and thank JCB and Scot JCB for the loan of the JCB 3CX which has definitely piqued the interest of the general public as well as those in the plant industry with its eye-catching Police Scotland livery.
“There are more events scheduled in the first half of 2024 and then, together with our partners at SPAACE, we will review activity and seek to build on it going forward.”
Plant owners are encouraged to come along to the free information events at HIS depots in Elgin, Inverness and Fort William for advice to avoid plant and fuel theft which includes:
- Property marking measures such as the CESAR scheme
- Use of The Equipment Register to record and aid the recovery of plant and equipment
- Tracking devices such as CanTrack
- GeoFencing using JCB’s Live-Link or similar telematics
- CCTV and alarm systems
- What to look out for and how to counteract suspicious behaviours
Garry Mackintosh, Managing Director of Highland Industrial Supplies, added:
“We are proud to support this initiative by the Scottish Plant Owners Association and with Police Scotland’s Rural and Acquisitive Crime Unit.
“With depots all over the Highlands and Moray and many customers who are concerned about plant, fuel and tool theft, it makes sense for HIS to host these information events and we are looking forward to supporting and facilitating local businesses to tackle this growing crime.
“I would urge all our customers to come along and meet the experts who can help.”
*It should be noted that the five-year mean has been affected significantly by decreases in acquisitive crime during the pandemic.