Theft of plant and machinery equipment from building sites soared by 50% during the pandemic, according to the Construction Equipment Association (CEA). Initially, the spike in thefts was driven by opportunistic thieves and organised crime gangs taking advantage of the hasty shutdown of many sites during the first lockdown in March 2020.

Although building sites are now up and running again, many are facing labour shortages, and long delays in deliveries, alongside soaring costs for construction materials. This is driving site thefts back up again, as thieves take advantage of unsecured equipment, and inadequate security and monitoring measures.

In July, thieves in Newark made off with a JCB telehandler from a construction site. Although it was fitted with a tracker, this was removed and left behind at the site, The Nottingham Post reports. The theft occurred over a weekend, and left workers unable to carry out their jobs on Monday morning.

Building contractors and tradesmen often bring their own machinery to a site, or hire plant. In either case, if the equipment is lost or damaged, they will need to be repaired or replaced, which can be very costly. It’s estimated that the construction industry loses £800m per year to machinery theft, the CEA says.

DC Chris Piggott, Rural Vehicle Crime intelligence officer, NAVCIS (National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service), said: “Many construction and agricultural vehicles now have so-called smart keys containing electronic information needed to start the machine, so it’s vital that keys are removed from machines and stored securely in a remote location.”

Despite all reasonable efforts to secure plant, accident or loss still sometimes happens. That’s why it is essential to be adequately insured for machinery including diggers, bulldozers, concrete mixers, cherry pickers, forklifts, dumpers, cranes, and so forth. Whether you own all your plant, or work on a hire basis, you will need a relevant policy.


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