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Preventing machinery and plant theft

Plant and machinery crime is a costly problem, especially in a rural county like Northamptonshire. Across the county, 32 per cent of residents are classed as living in rural areas. This is well above the national average of 17 per cent, with almost a third of our population living in and around rural towns.

If you own or hire plant or agricultural machinery, use the following advice to protect it. Setting up a good security routine and sticking to it will help these preventive measures become second nature:

  • Secure or immobilise vehicles where they are stored and when they aren’t in use
  • If practical, move machinery from fields when they aren’t in use, especially if they are near a road. Never leave ignition keys in machinery when it isn’t in use
  • Make sure that all security devices supplied with the plant, vehicle or machinery are always used
  • Overt and covert marking of property makes it less appealing to thieves, and easier to return to owners should it be stolen and recovered. Use engravers or welders to mark vehicles and equipment with your postcode, followed by the first two letters of your farm or company name
  • Consider overtly painting equipment in your corporate colours to make items less attractive to thieves
  • Mark parts with a unique number. The more parts you mark the easier it will be to identify them if the equipment is stripped down
  • Keep a record of serial, chassis and model numbers, and store in a secure place away from where the equipment is kept
  • Record all equipment and attachments in a company plant asset register
  • Consider fitting trackers to your most valuable vehicles. These are becoming cheaper now and should be looked at seriously for all vehicles
  • Number plate theft causes a range of problems. Consider fitting a secure plate bearing your company or farm details and/or a unique identifier. You may also want add a 24-hour telephone number so that the police can call you to check plant equipment they see on the move
  • Register items with an approved recognised database (e.g. CESAR)
  • Display security posters on-site to highlight security measures such as CCTV and to show your commitment to preventing crime
  • Assess your site, working from the perimeter in, imagining you’re a criminal looking for weaknesses. Write down any areas where you need to improve and act on them. Our leaflet on site security has a guide to site assessment – download it below

What should you do if plant machinery is stolen?

  • Act quickly and tell the police – call 999 if you discover the crime in progress or life is at risk, or use 101 if you discover the theft after the fact
  • If the equipment is insured, inform your insurer. If your equipment is registered with a commercial registration or tracking company, remember to tell them too
  • Do not disturb the scene of the crime until the police have investigated
  • Try to get the names and addresses of any witnesses
  • Make a note of the date, time and place of the theft and who saw the equipment last
  • Let the police have the plant identification document so that they can enter the correct information on the Police National Computer

If there is no plant identification document the police will need the following information:

  • Make, model and type of equipment lost
  • Colour
  • Registration number (if applicable)
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN) product identification number (PIN) and or serial number
  • Engine number
  • Plant hire or fleet number
  • Any other identification numbers or distinctive features
  • Descriptions of any attachments and their serial numbers (VIN or PIN)
  • Approximate value

To speak to our crime prevention team about protecting plant and machinery email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

Download leaflets with more detailed advice on protecting plant and machinery from criminals and improving site security below.

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