Construction equipment owners must take care of the equipment that they own. Heavy plant machinery is an important part of their livelihood and is very expensive to buy. Failing to keep machinery safe can be very costly, as insurance providers may not be willing to cover the full cost of stolen goods if the owner cannot prove that they took adequate steps to protect them. Understanding construction equipment safety and security is therefore vital.
In the United Kingdom, construction equipment owners are encouraged to join the Construction & Agricultural Equipment Security & Registration Scheme (CESAR). The CESAR Scheme has the backing of many of the largest construction and agricultural equipment providers in the country, including; JCB, John Deere, Manitou, Doosan, Massey Ferguson, Finning Cat, McCormick Gale, New Holland, Amazone and Challenger. In addition to equipment providers, the scheme also garners the support of leading insurance providers, the Home Office, the DVLA and the police.
The CESAR scheme was partially designed by the police to enable easier vehicle identification in suspicious circumstances. Police are able to use CESAR registration technology to quickly identify the registered owners of the equipment. They have 24/7 access to the CESAR database which includes hundreds of thousands of pieces of registration information.
When a vehicle or piece of equipment is registered with the CESAR scheme, it is fitted with a sophisticated multi-layer Datatag security system which acts as a unique “fingerprint” for that particular device. This fingerprint cannot be removed from the machinery, because traces of the identifying substance are placed across the whole of the device. A unique registration plate is placed onto the chassis of the vehicle, using tamper proof installation methods. Tiny RFID (radio frequency identification) transponders which are no larger than a grain of rice are also hidden in secret location on the vehicle. A special Datatag DNA substance is also painted onto sections of the construction equipment. This Datatag DNA contains unique identifying particles which can be used to track the owner of the item. In addition to this, equipment is also given a CESAR logo, so that potential thieves know that the equipment is protected by the CESAR scheme. When the police find or stop a vehicle, they can then check for these identifiers and access a national database to find out whether the vehicle is in the hands of its rightful owner.
The CESAR scheme also helps to add legitimacy to construction equipment sales. Any equipment which has been reported as stolen should be flagged up quickly when potential new owners try to register the item in their name. In fact, many users of the scheme actually find that CESAR membership helps them to sell their vehicle more easily, because it adds an extra degree of legitimacy to the sale. There should be no charge for users to recover vehicle under the scheme, when a stolen vehicle is discovered.
As many of the major manufacturers support the CESAR scheme, the majority of new vehicles are already CESAR protected. However, it is also possible to adapt existing vehicles to give them CESAR protection. It is a great investment for those who want to reduce the risk that they will fall victim to construction equipment theft. Those who run the scheme claim that equipment which is branded with overt CESAR protection logos are actually four times less likely to be targeted than non-branded vehicles are, in part because thieves just don’t want to waste their time on vehicles which are so easy to identify.
In addition to the CESAR scheme, all construction equipment owners are advised to take additional precautions to keep their equipment safe when it is not in use. Ignition keys and unique starters should be kept in a safe and secure location when not in use. They should preferably be held by a trusted person at all times. If the vehicle must be left onsite overnight, then the site should be secured to prevent unauthorised persons from entering or from leaving the site with a vehicle.
Whenever possible, ground locks or secure anchoring chains should be fitted to the vehicle to prevent it from being driven to an unauthorised location. These locks are not impossible to break through, but they do make it harder for a thief to remove the equipment quickly and easily. Opportunist thieves are less likely to target a vehicle or piece of equipment if they believe that they could draw attention to themselves whilst committing the crime.
An additional tracking device can also be fitted to equipment to help the owner to trace the vehicle if it is taken. These devices use GPS, GPRS and radio signals to help to alert the owners or the police to the vehicle. Some high-tech devices will even send an automatic alert to the owner if the equipment is removed from a “geofenced” location. This helps the owner to know about the problem as soon as possible.