Police recover lorry carrying stolen plant before it leaves UK

stolen plant
The police recovered eight stolen machines before being loaded onto a ferry to be taken out of the UK late one night (Image: CPA/NCATT)

The police have identified and stopped a lorryload of stolen plant before it was driven onto a ferry to be taken out of the UK.

The National Construction and Agriculture Theft Team (NCATT), part of Northumbria Police’s UK National Rural Crime Unit, recovered eight stolen machines, including six taken from an auction site in Yorkshire.

This operation was possible thanks to funding from the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA) and other industry organisations focused on recovering stolen plant equipment in the UK.

Global events such as the war in Ukraine are driving up demand for stolen goods. There has been a 200% increase in the theft of construction plant and agricultural equipment in the UK, according to the CPA.

Before the war in Ukraine began in February 2022, between 40 and 70 high-value machines were stolen per month on average. Last year, however, more than 200 machines were snatched nationwide in a single month. For the last year and a half, thefts have been at over 110 machines every month.

Police Superintendent Andy Huddleston, head of the NCATT, said: “The newly created NCATT is already making a huge difference in helping recover stolen plant, which is becoming even more prevalent.

“We are a small unit and whilst we can’t support every theft investigation, what we are able to do is make a tangible difference and I thank the industry for its crucial support in helping us do this.”

NCATT is a specialist team of police officers set up in January 2023 that covers the whole of the UK to help tackle the theft of construction plant and equipment by organised criminal groups.

Funding to recover stolen equipment

CPA, the Construction Equipment Association, and donors and insurers from the Construction & Agricultural Equipment Security and Registration scheme contributed a total of £650,000 to help NCATT.

The specialist force has recovered stolen plant and equipment worth over £1.7m during the first four months of 2024. Last year, the total value of the unit’s recoveries in 2023 was more than £6.1m.

The CPA said it is helping its over 1,900 members recover stolen equipment by sharing information among them.

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 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.

“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.”

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  1. CPA producing excellent support.

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