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Successful overseas sting operation thanks to A-Plant tracking system

A-Plant’s A-Trak GPS satellite tracking and security system has been at the hub of a successful sting operation to recover plant stolen in the UK and transported to Germany. The covert operation involved incredible co-ordination between A-Plant, the company’s security partners Enigma Vehicle Systems, Police both in the UK and Germany and the Plant and Agricultural National Intelligence Unit (PANIU), leading to the recovery of a stolen A-Plant excavator and the arrest of two Polish citizens.

Enigma hosts the A-Trak system on behalf of A-Plant and, following a routine check of which A-Plant pieces of equipment were showing up on the server as being located outside the UK, it transpired that an excavator was located in Germany. Enigma immediately contacted A-Plant’s depot in Rotherham, who originally hired the equipment out, to enquire whether the machine should be abroad.

The customer in question wasn’t even aware that the excavator had been stolen, never mind it was located overseas! Enigma contacted DC Ian Elliott who heads up PANIU and talks opened up between the English and German Police to try and recover the stolen A-Plant machine and catch the criminals concerned. The stolen excavator was kept at the same site for some days before it went on the move and as soon as it did, Enigma alerted DC Ian Elliott who subsequently liaised with the German Police to communicate the machine’s movements. The Police in Gotha in Thuringia, Germany, followed the stolen excavator on the highway near Nohra, stopping it to seize it and arresting the two people - Polish citizens - transporting the machine. The machine was then recovered and brought back to the UK.

Asif Latief, Marketing Director at A-Plant said: “This is a fantastic example of stolen plant being recovered and it shows that thieves cannot beat the system even when they take machines abroad. Over 95% of stolen A-Plant equipment protected with A-Trak is recovered, which is a remarkable statistic considering that the industry average of stolen plant recovery is only 5-10%.

“The loss of plant equipment can have a huge impact on businesses, leading to lost time and productivity, not to mention the vast expense of replacing the stolen equipment. Our partnership with Enigma and support from PANIU plays a key role in cracking down on plant theft and protecting businesses’ assets,” he continued. PANIU’s DC Ian Elliott said: “A-Trak is an excellent system and it helps make policing so much easier when it comes to recovering stolen plant. This system makes a real difference to us and the benefits to police are significant - we are now able to pinpoint exact movements and locations of machines and actually arrest the criminals responsible. With A-Trak, A-Plant are able to protect their customers’ interests and save all their on-costs for the loss of equipment.”

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. 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. In another recent example closer to home, four diggers and a roller were stolen from A-Plant’s depot in Immingham and the A-Trak system led to the successful recovery of all five items of equipment, three of which were stored in a 7.5T enclosed lorry on a remote farm.