A new system aimed at tackling the rise in thefts from construction sites has been launched by Police Scotland and Neighbourhood Watch Scotland.
The new ALERT platform seeks to enhance awareness between construction and trade industries, as well as police, to ensure intelligence relating to criminal or suspicious activity at one location is quickly provided to others.
It comes following a rise in thefts of plant equipment, tools and stored fuel and is supported by the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, Crimestoppers and Secured By Design.
Police Scotland said that, in February alone, almost £500,000 worth of equipment was stolen across the country – the most targeted areas being the north east, the Lothians and Scottish Borders.
Last month, over £11,000 worth of stored fuel has been stolen. The fuel thefts affect a wide range of people from individual’s families heating oil tanks to small businesses and those managing land and estates across Scotland.
Inspector Alan Dron from the National Rural & Acquisitive Crime Unit said, “We know that plant equipment, tools and fuel stores are often an attractive target for criminals, as they are of high value when selling on. Often site or vehicle security is breached during hours of darkness when there are very few potential witnesses, making it easier to make off with these items.
“The Construction Watch Scotland scheme allows those who are signed up to quickly be advised of offences or suspicious activity in their area, while recommending specific prevention measures that could be taken.
“Not only do we hope this will enhance our intelligence picture when investigating these incidents, but we are also looking to reduce the number of crimes occurring, with our ability to share information and make construction sites as uninviting as possible to serve as a deterrent.
“We’ve already seen the successful application of the ALERT platform through Rural Watch Scotland and Neighbourhood Watch Scotland and I’m confident Construction Watch Scotland will be of similar value in addressing construction and trade acquisitive crime.”
A spokesperson for Campion Homes added, “We have very recently had some very bad experience on our sites, in particular, one in Dundee. Over the course of a few nights youths entered our site and caused considerable damage to both our teleporter and static mobile crane, they also vandalised numerous components breaking many panes of class in the process.
“The machinery was out of use for a number of days which resulted in down time for both our company and local tradesmen. We almost lost the tradesmen because their morale was at rock bottom and thankfully we convinced them to stay and proceed with works on site.
“Construction Watch Scotland aims to prevent these incidents occurring, but if they do, then to ensure other sites aren’t similarly targeted and hopefully making sure those responsible are caught by the police.”
A CCG contracts division spokesperson said, “Recently we had two youths enter a large project, having got past the security cameras and entering a flatted block under construction. They set fire to some waste material, which in turn, ended with the block being totally fire damaged resulting in an insurance cost of approximately £1 million.
“CCTV footage shows that they were in and out in just about five minutes. Thankfully, they have been convicted. It only takes a minute for these crimes to occur and the impact on companies like ourselves can be devastating. That’s why we openly welcome the introduction of the new ALERT platform, Construction Watch Scotland.”