Police check on stolen machinery

POLICE in Suffolk are today trying to track stolen farm and building site machinery as part of a national operation.The Home Office estimates plant machinery worth £1m is stolen each week across the country - and only five per cent of this is ever formally identified and recovered.

Richard Cornwell

POLICE in Suffolk are today trying to track stolen farm and building site machinery as part of a national operation.

The Home Office estimates plant machinery worth £1m is stolen each week across the country - and only five per cent of this is ever formally identified and recovered.

It is a growing problem with much of the stolen equipment - such as excavators, tractors, dump trucks, generators, forklifts and cranes - sold and exported abroad.


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Officers from Suffolk and Essex police led stop-checks today along with officers from other agencies at the old A45 Felixstowe Road at Levington.

Police officers brought in trucks carrying machinery from the A14 for mechanical and ownership checks at a lay-by.

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Sgt Chris Fiske, of Suffolk police, said it was an ideal spot to make the checks because stolen machinery was often exported by the thieves via the Port of Felixstowe.

“We have had a busy day and made a large number of checks on a range of items - from small road breakers to huge JCBs,” he said.

“Most of it has been fine, but there have been a few mechanical prohibitions - so far we have we found nothing stolen.

“It has highlighted the situation with this machinery and for us it has been a learning exercise, too.”

A German lorry driver pulled over was forced to park up after his tachograph revealed he had exceeded his driving hours.

Sgt Fiske said the main problem with plant machinery was that it was often not kept very secure.

Many vehicles did not need a key to operate them and expensive kit was often left unattended in farm fields or kept on less than secure building sites.

In 2006, there were 152 incidents of theft of plant machinery reported to Suffolk police.

In 2007, there were 159 incidents and so far in 2008 there have been 107 incidents.

The campaign aims to try to identify the amount of stolen plant being moved on the strategic road network and runs until the weekend.

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