Plant tracking specialist AMI Group has recently introduced high-tech drones to help locate and recover stolen plant machinery - a move which is already paying off as the company’s drones have been put into action to assist the successful recovery of two stolen machines hidden in a shipping container in a transportation yard in Iver, Buckinghamshire.
One of the stolen machines was a Kubota Mini Excavator owned by AMI’s customer which was tracked with AMI’s AT5 battery-operated tracking system. Another machine, a 1.5T Hitachi Excavator, was found alongside the Kubota machine during the recovery. This second machine belongs to a landscape garden company and was not protected with an anti-theft tracking device, but thanks to the AMI tracking system and use of drones, this machine was also recovered by Thames Valley Police and returned to its rightful owner.
Due to state-of-the-art tracking technology, AMI Group knew the tracked machine was located in a transportation yard and a drone was deployed to pinpoint the exact location on the site before the police gained access. AMI’s drones work from remote or secure locations up to 7km away whilst streaming HD video footage to the AMI finder team. They can fly at an altitude of 400ft and are virtually silent whilst searching the area.
The recovery process began when AMI’s customer contacted AMI Group to alert the company that a Kubota Mini Excavator had been stolen from their customer’s site - a school in Buckinghamshire - overnight. Once a crime reference number had been obtained from Thames Valley Police, AMI Group’s 24 hour monitoring station monitored the unit until a positive GPS position was obtained. Movement alerts were added, and the GPS wake-up times were made more frequent.
As soon as a positive GPS fix was received from the stolen machine via the AMI Nexis web-based software platform, AMI Group despatched its finder team to the location in question to recover the asset. Upon arrival at the transportation yard in Iver, Buckinghamshire, it became apparent that the site was extensive with several cars, vans, lorries, shipping containers and outbuildings located on it. It was at this point that AMI’s finder team decided to conduct reconnaissance in the area of the GPS location using drone technology. Drones can offer further insight and information into the nature of areas that stolen machinery is being stored.
During the drone surveying, the AMI finder team located a row of shipping containers secreted in the corner of the yard and the GPS asset location revealed that the machine owned by AMI’s customer was located in one of these containers. The police were called to enable a thorough search of the shipping containers and whilst waiting for the police, the RF (Radio Frequency) beacon on the AT5 tracking unit was activated to confirm exactly which container the stolen machine was located in. After scanning the RF frequency, the correct container was confirmed and the police opened it to reveal the stolen Kubota Mini Excavator.
Directly alongside it was a 1.5T Hitachi Excavator and it soon became apparent that this was also stolen. Once all relevant details had been exchanged with the police, AMI’s customer was informed of the successful find and arrangements were made to recover both pieces of stolen machinery by the police to enable further investigations to be carried out.
The Kubota Mini Excavator was protected with AMI’s AT5 unit. The AT5 is a self-contained, wireless, battery operated tracking device which can be covertly installed on plant machinery and is best suited as an after-theft unit. Just 21 x 55 x 52mm in size, the AT5 has a battery life of up to 20 years and it utilises highly sensitive assisted GPS positioning accurate to within 1 metre. The AT5 provides a ‘fit and forget’ solution and it can be transferred from machine to machine with ease within minutes. With no hard wires to trace, the AT5 is very difficult to locate in the event of a theft.