Europol joins fight to beat tractor theft

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Series Details Vol.7, No.41, 8.11.01, p11
Publication Date 08/11/2001
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Date: 08/11/01

By Martin Banks

THE EU is to coordinate a Union-wide fight against the growing lucrative trade in stolen tractors and excavators.

Europol, the EU's police agency, is linking up with a UK-based specialist company, National Plant and Equipment Register (TER), to tackle the criminal gangs that are thought to be costing Europe up to €15 billion a year.

The move follows a forum on organised crime held in Brussels last week. EU officials, police officers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and business representatives pledged to put equipment theft on their priority list.

Tim Purbrick, of TER, which tracks stolen vehicles over Europe, the accession countries and Africa, said: "Across the EU, we are looking at a problem that is costing somewhere between €5 and €15 billion per year."

A single construction vehicle can be worth upwards of 200,000 euro, and a mid-range tractor is worth around 50,000.

Much of the specialist gear is stolen to order from building sites and farms, given a new 'identity' and transported - sometimes thousands of kilometres away.

A digger stolen in Wiltshire, UK can be in Warsaw within 48 hours, says Purbrick.

He added: "Feedback from the forum was very positive and I was particularly pleased that Europol has agreed to help us combat this problem. "Firstly, they will assist us in assessing the scale of the problem of equipment theft in Europe and then set about doing something about it. We believe one way forward is to roll out across

Europe what we are currently doing in Britain. "In the UK, the Home Office has passed all nationally-held police equipment theft records to TER for analysis so that a more efficient service can be provided to the police. "There was general agreement at the forum that all EU member states should pass their equipment theft data to TER. "From this, we would then begin to understand the nature of equipment theft in Europe. At present, I am sorry to say that there seems to be very little being done to tackle this crime on a Europe-wide basis."

The EU is to coordinate a Union-wide fight against the growing lucrative trade in stolen tractors and excavators.

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