Tackling plant and fuel theft

For the last year, the SPOA has been working closely with Police Scotland to tackle plant and fuel theft across Scotland through our partnership with the Scottish Partnership Against Acquisitive Crime (SPAACE), launched in May 2023.

Representatives from the SPOA and Police Scotland have been all over the country with the Police Scotland liveried JCB 3CX, generously donated by JCB and Scot JCB, to raise awareness of this form of acquisitive crime and offer advice to plant owners.

Highlights have included the Drymen Show, Royal Highland Show, Black Isle Show, Orkney County Show, Blair Horse Trials, SPOA Plant Operator Competition in Errol, Cairnryan ferry terminal and at HIS depots across the Highlands.

Police Scotland SPOA JCB

These free information events 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.

Over the past year, the 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.

Worryingly, at the end of 2023, Police Scotland released a report showing that acquisitive crime in 2023 was 12.2% 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.

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.”

The final destination for our #machineonamission will be ScotPlant2024. If you have not attended one of the free events, we would encourage you to come along and find out more about how you can avoid being a victim of crime.​​​​

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