‘Up to 20 heavy vehicles and large pieces of equipment are stolen from NSW construction sites every week and sold on black markets as far away as South America and South Africa.
Thieves are making off with equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
They are helped by the extraordinary fact that a universal key operates most of the machinery.
There were 1174 heavy vehicle thefts in the year to June 30, with only a 68 per cent recovery rate, the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council found.
The trafficking of stolen heavy equipment is two-way between Australia and the world.
The Australian buyer of a second-hand backhoe from Britain found a 9mm pistol and ammunition secreted in the dashboard. British police found the backhoe, tractors and excavators had been stolen and shipped to Australia.’