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A-Trak Tackles Plant Theft

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A few months ago I was sitting at my desk being a busy marketer when I took a phone call from the police down at Southampton Docks. A generator with an A-Plant identity had been spotted on a ship bound for South Africa. The policeman wanted to check that the generator hadn’t been stolen before it left our shores.

This call reminded me of how potentially easy it still is to steal equipment then transport it well away from its place of origin.

Fortunately though, plant and equipment theft is reducing drastically and, at A-Plant, we like to think that we have been pioneers in that shift change.

We work with a number of fellow hire companies to address the issue – a huge challenge as it totals more than £800 million annually and, more often than not, occurs at construction sites.

We provide our customers with A-Trak - an asset monitoring and theft recovery system. It is custom built and powered by Skyline, the flagship security and mobile asset management system from Enigma Telematics.

The location and track systems operate on Global Positioning Systems (GPS) satellites to provide accurate location via satellite and cellular technologies. Information is transmitted directly to the customer’s internet connected device. The system can monitor the location, movement, engine hours and battery condition of the plant.

The tracking interface makes effective use of the advanced features in Google Maps and includes traditional map or hybrid satellite images and, where supported, Google Street View. Traffic and Routing are already integrated.

A-Trak is A-Plant’s answer to the wider work of the Plant and Agricultural Industry Unit (PANIU) which was set up by the Metropolitan Police in October 2008. PANIU, along with industry partners, in particular Construction Industry Theft Solutions (CITS), embarked on a crime prevention strategy.

The Unit created a national database to record plant theft. A database that now holds over 30,000 stolen machines and is circulated to 187 countries worldwide, using the Interpol ASF network.

The Construction Equipment Security and Registration Scheme (CESAR) was also created. The numbers are staggering:

  • Over 200,000 machines are now protected by CESAR marking
  • CESAR marked machines are six times less likely to be stolen
  • They are four times more likely to be recovered, if stolen.

By October 2010, theft figures had peaked at an estimated £2 million of machinery being stolen each week. However, to date, JCB has reported that recorded theft has fallen by 65%, and overall machinery theft is down 40%.

The good news is that our generator was recovered in time, on this occasion due to effective, old-fashioned policing, but there is only so much that the police can do when tackling an issue on this scale. This is where technology has really come to the fore and makes it increasingly difficult for thieves. Long may it continue.
(Source: Metropolitan Police)

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