Organised crime behind construction theft

Increasing evidence suggests that organised crime gangs with links to the construction industry are behind the majority of heavy equipment theft in Australia.

According to research presented at a recent Construction Industry Theft Summit, the cost of equipment theft in the construction industry could that it may be as high as $50 million a year.

According to  Construction and Mining Industry Equipment Group (CMEIG) CEO John Reid, organised crime gangs are attracted to theft of heavy equipment because it consists of high-value products that can be sold relatively easily.

“One stolen excavator will easily bring in the same return as four or five Commodores,” Reid said.

“Another thing that makes heavy equipment theft attractive and lucrative is that there is no consistent national and industry-wide system of easy identification – so there is no need for sophisticated rebirthing.”

Reid said evidence presented at the summit indicated that the great majority of stolen equipment was sold within Australia.

“It’s simply a matter of transporting the equipment interstate, perhaps giving it a new paint job and removing or covering over the owner’s identifying logos and phone numbers, and it’s very easy to sell.”

“They are professional, they know what they are doing because they are often heavily involved in the industry – and the stolen equipment is rarely recovered,” he said.

According to Civil Contractors Federation CEO, Chris White, plant and equipment theft has a relatively low profile, compared to motor vehicle theft.

“This means that its dynamics, frequency and cost is little understood by the community, law enforcement or policy makers,” he said. 

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