Battery theft on the rise?
It has been brought to our attention in the past couple of weeks that the number of incidents of battery packs being stolen from electric powered aerial lifts is on the rise - at least in the UK - and beginning to cost owners and rental companies a substantial amount.
This has rarely come up in the past, even when we have carried out extensive research for our annual battery feature in Cranes & Access magazine it has not been raised. Apparently it is not a new problem, however it does seem to be escalating as thieves begin to realise that stealing a whole machine has become more challenging thanks to modern built in telematics and the sharing of information on stolen machines.
Arriving in the morning to find that a machine you had planned to use for an urgent job has been stripped of its batteries can be hugely disruptive, not to mention expensive, as outlined in the following excerpt from a letter sent to us by the owner of a UK sales and rental company: “We have had another eight batteries removed from an HR21 during the night in which the culprits had to scale locked gates and lift the batteries over a high fence. The cost alone for the batteries is £1,850 excluding the inconvenience to ourselves and our customer, and the cost of replacing the batteries with the engineers time.”
Speaking with aerial lift battery suppliers seems to confirm that it is indeed becoming a more prevalent issue, as more crooks realise that work platforms are increasingly battery powered and that the battery packs are largely unprotected. Add to this the apparent ease with which they can be sold for scrap and the fact that the police have little or no interest in investigating such crimes, and it is easy to see why a platform’s batteries are such a juicy target - 'low hanging fruit' for the opportunistic thief.
While some governments have tightened up the rules covering the acceptance of high value scrap such as batteries, lead and copper cables etc… it does not appear to be having much impact, and those who steal them clearly have no problem turning them into cash, with little to no chance of getting caught. So what can be done about it?
Well, industry associations could raise the issue with the law enforcement authorities and perhaps work with the scrap handling industry to raise awareness of the issue. But the thing that might make the biggest difference is better built in security - making them harder to steel - Perhaps equipment manufacturers should look at making machine covers and canopies that can be secured, and perhaps battery compartments need to be alarmed - although that can add unwanted complexity etc…
This is a subject that several readers have suggested requires more focus and research so we thought we would begin by asking owners and end users among our readers/visitors if they have been subject to battery theft over the past year or two, in a bid to ascertain how widespread it might be. So please vote in our open poll further down the home page. You can also leave further information in a comment below - registration only requires a name and email address and it is fully secure. Or if you prefer email us on email@example.com