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Commander Neil Basu of the Metropolitan Police outlines his involvement with the CEA's Security and Registration Scheme - CESAR, and how machinery theft is being reduced…

Commander Neil Basu is the head of Gangs and Organised Crime, within Specialist Crime and Operations for the Metropolitan Police and is responsible for some 2000 officers. In this article he explains how and why CESAR was born.

"It started in 2006 when the CEA came to us to highlight the problem that machinery theft was averaging something like £1.5m per week; with related costs running at many millions more and what were we going to do about it?" said Commander Basu.

"At that time, 'One Key Fits All' and 'One Stolen is Another Sold' were phrases often used and heard. The response from the Metropolitan Police to tackle the problem of machinery theft was three fold and we made recommendations/actions to the industry - these were that a Police Unit dedicated to tackling the problem of construction and agricultural machinery theft, a database set up to capture all reported theft for the UK and a universally accepted marking scheme recognised by the industry, for the industry was required" added Commander Basu.

These recommendations were embraced by the industry and working together with the Metropolitan Police Service the CEA took up the challenge to become the 'Owner' of the proposed marking scheme.

The company trusted with providing the technological marking solution was Datatag ID, whose class leading technologies including RFID, tamper evident warning labels, microdots and forensic DNA were already recognised in many markets as being practically unbeatable by criminal gangs. This coupled with an ISO 9000 accredited secure 24/7 database ensures that not only are thieves deterred from theft but access to property details is available at any time for the police to check.

In November 2007 the first machine protected by the new industry marking scheme, rolled off the production line at JCB World Headquarters. "And so CESAR was born" said Commander Basu, "today over 150,000 machines are protected by CESAR."

Other sections of the industry, notably the insurance companies specialising in the arena of construction and agricultural machinery insurance recognised they had a part to play. Donations from the leading insurers to the Metropolitan Police Service secured the funding necessary to form the dedicated unit.

"In October 2008, The Plant & Agricultural National Intelligence Unit (PANIU) was formed and with that came the national database to capture all reported machinery thefts" reported Commander Basu.

As the reputation of PANIU grew, so too did the theft database. Accurate reporting of thefts was key so that the industry and the public had confidence in the police response. The plant theft figures peaked in October 2010 with an estimated £2m of machinery being stolen each week.

PANIU engaged with industry partners and embarked upon a crime prevention strategy the like of which had never been seen before. Machinery manufacturers were encouraged to fit CESAR as standard, as were major buyers of equipment and even end users were advised to consider security for the products they were using.

CESAR was quickly recognised as the industry standard with the insurance industry offering substantial discounts on premium if CESAR was fitted.

Working with Thatcham, the motor insurance test facility, a five star security rating system was introduced for construction and agricultural machinery, mirroring a similar system used by the motor vehicle industry. The more stars a manufacturer or end user could gain on their product, the greater the insurance discount offered.

The benefits were immediately obvious to all. Fit a unique key, immobiliser technology and CESAR to the machine and 3 stars were immediately achieved. Broadly this led to a discount on premium of around 12.5%, year on year.

Commander Basu said, "We are currently working towards a more streamlined system of funding for PANIU where the MOPAC (Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime) has a single contract with the CEA instead of the existing eight individual contracts with the insurers. This agreement will further enhance and cement the relationship that exists between the MPS and the CEA."

"Working together with our partners, Allianz, Aviva, HSB Engineering, NFU Mutual, Northern Marine Underwriters, QBE, RSA and Zurich we have seen some remarkable results across the industry. Overall, machinery theft is down 33% since the peak of October 2010."

Commander Basu also highlighted further results from the CESAR Scheme, which is delivered by Datatag on behalf of the CEA:

  • A machine protected by CESAR is 6 times less likely to be stolen than an unmarked machine;

  • A CESAR marked item of machinery is 4 times more likely to be recovered in the event of theft. Not one John Deere tractor fitted with Thatcham 3 star product has been reported stolen to PANIU in the last 18 months;

  • Just 5 JCB products meeting the 3 star rating have been reported stolen in the previous 18 months and one of these had the keys left in the ignition. JCB recorded theft has fallen 59%;

  • We have recorded 1,201 CESAR marked items of equipment stolen and recovered 360 of them. That is 30%. The national recovery rate for machinery theft in 2008 was around 5%;

  • Tractor theft was at its worst in the period July - September 2009 with 159 reported stolen. In the quarter April - June 2014 this has fallen to just 39;

  • The most stolen item of machinery by generic type is the mini excavator. For Jul - Sept 2009 the figure was 256 reported stolen. Today that has fallen to 95;

  • PANIU has assisted in or been directly involved in the recovery of over £12m of stolen machinery.

Commander Basu concluded, "The work of PANIU and the relationship that has been fostered between the Metropolitan Police Service, the CEA, Datatag and the wider industry is a brilliant example of what can be achieved in the fight against organised vehicle crime. This relationship has been born out of a shared desire to tackle head on machinery theft in the UK - a fact that I am very happy to recognise."

Rob Oliver, chief executive, CEA said, "Our partnership with the police has been key in ensuring that there is a committed crime fighting team working in tandem with the CESAR Scheme. Our scheme managers, Datatag, have now also been able to extend the practices and technology involved in CESAR to other sectors, including the motor cycle market. Future challenges are to extend the scheme take-up overseas and to build the value of our machine database for the benefit of our industry".

Source: Construction Equipment Association
Tel: +44 (0)20 8253 4502

Date Created: 09/04/2015

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