Construction firms must not be complacent, warns Norwich Union

Article date: 1 February 2008

Norwich Union warns that plant theft from construction sites remains a very serious problem, with around £1 million worth of machinery going missing each week*.

Businesses also face continuity problems because of the long lead times involved in replacing stolen specialist machinery. 

Construction firm policyholders can not only reduce the risk of plant theft, but also reap the rewards of premium discounts and lower excesses, if better security measures are adopted.

Gary Thom, senior underwriter for engineering at Norwich Union, says: "Despite constantly increasing health and safety legislation to prevent unauthorised access to construction sites, and the fact that more businesses are becoming risk aware, plant machinery is still being stolen at an incredible rate and measures must be taken to prevent it happening.

"Much of the problem of construction site theft stems from the ease with which items can be removed and subsequently disposed of. With less than 5% of stolen items ever recovered and low levels of prosecutions by the police, plant theft is regarded as a low risk opportunity for the criminals involved.

"A large amount of specialist machinery is from overseas, with Germany, for example, a key manufacturer of cranes and Japan an important plant market. This means it can take weeks for new machinery to be ordered and shipped, often causing a serious business continuity problem for construction firms."

Norwich Union recommends marking all equipment and machinery under the CESAR, (Construction Equipment Security and Registration) scheme. 

Gary comments: "The scheme has been driven primarily by the Metropolitan Police and concerns around security at the Olympic sites, given the vast amount of plant on site. The scheme includes various levels of markings for the equipment, from highly visible six-character triangular registration plates, down to multiple covert markings and hidden transponders.

"Physical security measures are also vital to help prevent theft further.  Immobilisers for any driven item and mechanical devices such as boom locks, arm locks or leg locks on machinery can also be a good deterrent.  Tracking devices can also be used and although they do not prevent the item being stolen, it will certainly increase the chance of recovery.

"We also recommend that site security measures are adopted.  Whilst walls or fences surrounding the site are a must, employing security guards or having monitored CCTV with the back up of a police response is also recommended.  Where possible, valuable items should be stored within a building or a purpose built storage facility, and this should also have security measures in place".


For further information, please contact:
Elinor Graveson at Staniforth or 0161 919 8025/07973 360141 or Sally Leeman at Norwich Union on 01603 684225/
07800 699670

Notes to editors:

* A commercially held international database, reported that in 2006 the total value of plant theft reported by its members was £31.5 million. Other sources, including the International Association of Engineering Insurers (IMIA) estimate the value of thefts to be much higher, at between £56 million and £78 million. Estimates based on this range of figures suggest that between £700,000 and £1.5 million worth of plant are stolen every week in the UK.

Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers.  FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at

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