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Iain Anderson at our Glasgow event.

Review security

Always willing to share his knowledge, GAP MD, Iain Anderson, discusses practical measures to prevent equipment theft and fraudulent hire attempts.

At the recent Executive Hire Show Scotland, held in Glasgow, returning speaker, GAP MD Iain Anderson, provided an update on how machinery and equipment theft from hirers’ premises can be reduced. He said that theft in general remains a huge problem, with estimates that between £1.5m and £2m worth of items are stolen from UK sites every week. “It is worth remembering that it is not simply the value of the kit stolen that is important, but also the costly outage on our customers’ sites, the need for replacement hire, and the expense on hirers’ insurance.”

Thieves are becoming more sophisticated, often using modern technology to spy on hirers’ yards. Small digital cameras with antennae attached to lithium batteries can provide surveillance for several days, and relatively cheap drones could be flown several hundred metres away and record the layout of equipment and general yard activity. Indeed, figures from PANIU (Plant and Agricultural National Intelligence Unit) suggested that plant theft had increased approximately 25% in the first half of 2016.

Besides standard practices such as alarm systems, GAP adopts a range of measures to protect its depots. Palisade fencing can be installed on top of concrete walls to prevent machine movement in the event of a break-in, and concrete barriers are placed across gates. Alarmingly, in one past incident, thieves had gained access via an adjacent property that was not so well protected, and so it was worth checking with neighbours to ensure they take their security seriously.

GAP now has a three-part process for evaluating depot security. Primary measures reduce the possibility of break-ins, secondary approaches limit losses in the event of intruders, and a tertiary assessment is conducted to learn from an incident and identify additional steps to take. “During this inspection, we place ourselves in the shoes of the criminal, considering security externally as if trying to break in, rather than internally looking out. This might involve identifying vulnerable areas and installing alarms on perimeter fencing and CCTV, then considering how, if a thief did gain entry,

we can prevent them moving machines, such as by disabling plant. We regularly review existing security.”

Caged areas inside depots safeguard high-value equipment.

For primary protection, GAP’s alarm system providers are now contracted to include a six-monthly depot survey with managers, and personnel undertake monthly checks of site perimeters, layout changes, lighting and CCTV, with all machine keys and fobs being accounted for. Iain said it was also important to check that security systems were in working condition. Plant and equipment have corporate branding, which can be embossed on items with plastic casings, and machine are fitted with CESAR anti-theft protection from Datatag, or other deterrents. Secondary measures include removing and locking away machine keys at night, parking plant to prevent easy

movement, blocking vehicle exits and fitting tracking devices. Ladders and climbing equipment are stored inside, and caged areas are incorporated inside workshops to store high-value equipment.

GAP adopts a range of measures to protect its premises.

Iain stressed the need to be vigilant against fraudulent hire activity. Recent attempts GAP has experienced include someone posing as a construction company, giving a head office phone number and address which proved bogus when checked. In another case, cold callers arrived at a depot attempting to pass themselves off as employees of a recognised company, complete with a form of identity which again proved false. Additional measures introduced by GAP have included being suspicious of unusual orders or unlikely combinations of equipment, querying deliveries to residential premises, checking car registration

numbers, and making calls to a previously verified head office to check the legitimacy of orders.

Finally, Iain said that the Plant Hire Steering Group is working closely with a campaign group called Financial Fraud Action UK, the Combined Industry Theft Solutions (CITS) organisation and the Metropolitan Police to deliver a joint UK campaign, scheduled to be announced soon.

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