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Instrument theft: ‘If you steal from us, we will pursue every angle to reclaim that instrument.’ The result is a Trimble S5 Total Station tracked and recovered from Poland.

By following all the industry guidelines, nationwide survey company Survey Solutions is sending out a strong message to equipment thieves: ‘If you steal from us, we will pursue every angle to reclaim that instrument.’ The result is a Trimble S5 Total Station tracked and recovered from Poland.

Whilst survey equipment theft remains rife as recently reported by The Survey Association in one of its regular updates, on a more encouraging front, an instrument stolen from Survey Solutions has been reclaimed from Warsaw in Poland.

For Survey Solutions’ Survey Manager, Reece Maycey, the tracking and recovery of this instrument has proved to be a satisfying experience and one that throws some light on what happens when a piece of equipment is stolen:

“Our company has experienced instrument theft in the past and we have several cases currently under investigation. However, this time, our efforts have led to a successful outcome and the experience of dealing with the relevant parties in the recovery of the instrument have been extremely positive starting with a receptive response from the local police through to the help we’ve received from TSA, DeterTech and the UK Police Task Force that deals with construction and agricultural equipment theft.”

Whilst Survey Solutions protects its equipment in a number of ways (including the use of Trimble’s Sentinel real-time device tracking solution and padlocks and cables) and ensures that all its surveyors are aware that remaining safe during a theft is the number one priority, inevitably incidents still occur. In this case, the KOREC supplied Trimble S5 Total Station was stolen from the roadside in a quiet dead-end street in East London whilst the surveyors were 50-60m away.

The local police were immediately alerted and at the same time, Reece used the Trimble Sentinel app to track the instrument’s movement in real-time. The tracking positions led to a nearby block of flats and although the police were on the scene promptly, it was impossible to pinpoint which flat the instrument was stored in.

However, three weeks later, the signal became active again allowing Reece to track its movement around the Warsaw area and at this stage significant progress was made. Through TSA, Survey Solutions were put in touch with the intelligence-led security solutions company DeterTech (formerly SmartWater), who work in alliance with TSA to coordinate a response to thieves who persistently target surveyors.

Reece was able to provide DeterTech with full details on the instrument, its serial number, type etc to identify it along with real-time positions in Warsaw where its frequent movement indicated it was being used on regular surveys in the area. DeterTech worked in conjunction with a police officer on the UK task force specialising in organised crime of the theft of construction and agricultural equipment who liaised with police in Poland.

The instrument was recovered by Polish police and is now in the possession of Survey Solutions’ insurance company.

For Reece Maycey, the success of this recovery underlines how important it is to collaborate with industry partners to provide the information that enables not just the recovery of instruments but the avoidance of theft in the first place. This can be assisted through the sharing of information and vigilant business practices that include being alert to unusual vehicle behaviour around a site and being prepared to bring in security in ‘hot spot’ theft areas that can be identified with TSA information.

TSA advice on keeping your equipment safe

Protect your equipment in the field: Sentinel is available as an after-market add-on for Trimble S Series and C5 instruments. Its usefulness goes far beyond retrieving missing instruments. It can help you find teams in the field at any given time. It also contains a G-force sensor that sends alerts to users to check instruments for calibration errors or damage when they’ve been dropped or have endured a rough ride.