Protecting capital investment in plant and equipment: case study observations of post-theft recovery

Edwards, David J. and Holt, Gary David (2008) Protecting capital investment in plant and equipment: case study observations of post-theft recovery. Journal of Financial Management of Property and Construction, 13 (2). pp. 96-110. ISSN 1366-4387

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Purpose – Plant and equipment theft (PET) is inherent throughout the construction sector. Its effect places direct financial burden on those who have invested in such assets, but additionally, induces “indirect” costs for many other stakeholders including project owners, plant hirers and construction managers. The paper's objective is to take and discuss a snapshot of PET, the overriding aim being to aid greater understanding of it and in particular, the application of (post-theft) recovery technologies.

Design/methodology/approach – Descriptive case study data are considered along with informal, anecdotal evidence provided by practitioners. These data are qualitatively considered; observations are discussed; a model representation of PET and recovery is developed; and conclusions are drawn.

Findings – Plant and equipment thieves are shown to be audacious and determined, but it is identified that in addressing these characteristics, recent advances in plant security and recovery technologies (PSRT) have been significant. Arguably, PSRT are not being adopted as broadly as they should be to offset the PET problem.

Research limitations/implications – The formal model of PET might help inform future academic endeavour in the subject of plant and equipment management generally and PET specifically.

Practical implications – The model suggests that more widespread use of PSRT may not only help defeat plant thieves, but additionally help recover stolen assets and identify organised criminal networks.

Originality/value – The work is novel in setting and will be of interest to both academics and practitioners in the field.

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