[holding answer 5 November 2009]: The Home Office has not recently estimated the cost of the theft of heavy plant and equipment. The plant and agricultural national intelligence unit of the Metropolitan police estimates that approximately £1.5 million of construction and agricultural plant machinery is stolen in the UK every week.
I am aware that vehicle security experts Thatcham estimate the total cost to the UK of plant theft to be upwards of £600 million per year.
The Home Office takes the theft of plant and equipment very seriously. That is why the Home Office scientific development branch (HOSDB) published the “Security Guidance Document for Agricultural and Construction Plant", which was launched by me, in my capacity as the Minister for crime reduction at the construction industry theft solutions conference on 3 November this year.
The new guidance provides up to date advice and information for the agricultural and construction industries, helping them to protect themselves from theft. The guidance was first published in January 2008, and has been revised and updated in the light of technological developments and our most recent understanding of the methods used by criminals to steal agricultural and plant machinery.
I am grateful to the plant theft action group (PTAG), established by the Home Office but now operated by and for the plant industry, and to the plant and agricultural national intelligence unit of the Metropolitan police (PANIU) for their support in producing the updated guidance.
PTAG and PANIU are also continuing to make a significant contribution to the reduction of plant theft through developments such as the CESAR plant marking and registration scheme, and the publication of guidance on construction site security.
The availability of the HOSDB plant security guidance, the PANIU site security guidance and the CESAR scheme are together proving successful at reducing plant theft and increasing rates of recovery of stolen plant.