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Stolen A-Plant Machine Tracked To Middle East And Recovered In Sharjah

The incredible recovery record (nearly 98%) of A-Plant's A-Trak GPS satellite tracking and security system used to protect the machines in the company's hire fleet has been more than amply demonstrated this month by the successful retrieval in Sharjah in the Middle East of a JCB skid-steer loader stolen from the UK. One of the security mechanisms used by A-Plant to prevent plant theft, A-Trak was developed jointly by A-Plant and Enigma Vehicle Systems with security as the principal requirement - thieves cannot beat the system even when they take machines abroad!!

Enigma hosts the A-Trak system on behalf of A-Plant and, by following the satellite reports from the tracking devices in the stolen skid-steer loader, it was found that the machine left the country from Southampton docks nine days after it was stolen. Enigma contacted Southampton docks to get the timetable and schedule of all the ships sailing out of Southampton on the same date the skid-steer departed from the UK and found the ship on which the machine was transported was the Socol 2 bound for Gibraltar. The machine was subsequently carried across the Mediterranean Sea and down the Suez Canal to Oman, where it was unloaded.

Through further tracking, Enigma was able to pinpoint the new location of the machine in the neighbouring UAE state of Sharjah. Working alongside Enigma's joint venture partner based in Dubai, Enigma was able to arrange for an undercover representative to visit the location in Sharjah who found the machine and the people holding it. To ensure the skid-steer loader was not sold on, Enigma arranged for a deposit to be paid to hold the machine in place, while Interpol working between England and Sharjah completed the necessary paper work to recover the machine.

Eleven days after the initial theft in England, Ian Keam-George, Chief Executive of Enigma Vehicle Systems, arrived in Dubai with DataTag scanning equipment to aid in the identification of the equipment. Three days later, the Sharjah police took two suspects into custody together with not only the skid-steer loader, but also a generator stolen from another plant hire company in the Manchester area.

Andy Wortley, IT Director at A-Plant, said: "Enigma has been very flexible in the way they have developed the system with us. The ability to track stolen machines abroad is a standard feature of the systems developed by Enigma and the recovery of the skid-steer loader after a trip of well over a thousand miles to the Indian Ocean is a brilliant display of the powers offered by A-Trak."

The A-Trak system utilises mobile GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) devices, fitted to A-Plant equipment such as dumpers, rollers, excavators, telehandlers and compressors, which provides internet tracking and telematics information by communicating with host servers with bespoke software running to decode the incoming data.

A-Trak is one of an expanding number of fully integrated on-line services that A-Plant customers can access through the Extranet at the company's website www.aplant.com. When the customer accesses the A-Trak system via the Extranet, they can obtain a wealth of information about the status of the equipment they have hired, to check that the equipment is operating as desired, is being used properly and that it is at its intended location.

All equipment covered by the A-Trak system remains in contact with the server all year round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so its status is available at all times. Once linked to the A-Trak system, customers can request positions, ringfence machines (for additional theft protection) and send text messages to remotely immobilise and/or release equipment. The ability to monitor running hours is one of a number of sensor options that can be provided by using the information ports available on the device at the centre of the A-Trak system. Functions that can be monitored also include towing speeds, fuel level, battery level, coolant, engine on/off, ignition on/off, engine covers open/closed and so on.

Using A-Trak through the Extranet, the customer can even generate an aerial photograph of the site where the equipment is located. Photographs like this are also being used to guide the police when they are attempting to recover stolen plant. The information on these photographs is so good that it has led to many recoveries of equipment, even when it is hidden.

Andy Wortley said: "Customers are excited by the information and protection provided by the A-Trak system. In the first instance it is proving to be a powerful deterrent to the theft of A-Plant equipment with a 98% recovery rate, significantly reducing downtime and costs for both A-Plant and our customers. The swift recovery of our machines using the A-Trak security system is really pleasing for our customers as they are not additionally charged for the stolen machine."