Plant and equipment identification

With over £50m worth of equipment stolen each year (approx. £1m/week) equipment theft is a major area of crime you need to know about.

This guide will provide the necessary information for a police or law enforcement officer to better understand the equipment theft problem, know what to look for and have the technical knowledge to initiate an investigation.

Equipment theft

There is a huge demand for high spec, high value equipment stolen from within the UK. In many cases items will find their way into storage containers destined for overseas. With the cost of a JCB backhoe loader at around £45k, it is easy to see why thieves are targeting the plant and construction equipment market.

Equipment selector

Select a piece of equipment to find out more:


Combine Harvester




Excavator (Mini)

Forklift (Rough Terrain)

Forklift (Warehouse)


Loader (Backhoe)

Loader (Skid Steer)

Loading Shovel

Quad Bike





Tractor (Compact)

Tractor (Lawn)

Trailer (Flat-bed)

Trailer (Horse)


Utility Cart

Theft indicators

An awareness of the following indicators will help focus attention on suspicious equipment during routine stops, patrols and investigations.


Time: Equipment being transported between 2000-0500 hrs or on weekends or holidays. Equipment theft most often happens at these times and contractors are unlikely to pay overtime if it can be avoided. (Note: exception – in large metropolitan areas equipment is sometimes moved in the early mornings to avoid traffic).

Things to watch out for

  • Equipment being hauled on vehicles not designed to haul such equipment.
  • New equipment on old transport.
  • Trade plates on the vehicle.
  • Haulier is using agricultural (red (UK) or green (Irish)) diesel, or any other illegal fuel, in their vehicle.
  • Haulier vehicle has no company livery.
  • The labels/markings on the equipment do not match those of the vehicle carrying or hauling it.
  • The Ministry Number is missing from the haulier’s trailer.
Plant and Equipment Identification Guide

Plant and equipment guide

Helping the police identify plant and equipment understand the equipment theft problem, know what to look for and to have the technical knowledge to initiate an investigation.

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