Organised crime gangs are stealing millions of dollars worth of equipment from Queensland mine sites, a report by the Crime and Misconduct Commission has revealed.
In a special report the CMC said heavy equipment theft was on the rise in QLD, and the trend was expected to continue as the mining and construction sectors expanded.
“Stakeholders suggested the increase in thefts could be attributed in part to the mining boom and associated infrastructure projects in QLD,” the report said.
“Certainly, the expansion of the mining and construction industries creates a larger market for stolen heavy equipment, in terms of both supply and demand.”
The CMC noted a similar increase in equipment theft from mine sites in WA had not been recorded, despite the state experiencing similar growth in its industry.
“Organised networks may view QLD (and the other eastern states) as a more attractive target because they perceive it is easier to transport stolen equipment from QLD to interstate and overseas markets,” it said.
The profitability of equipment theft, which is of high value and in high demand in interstate and overseas markets, was seen as a contributing factor to the rise in crime.
The vulnerability of equipment, which was often left in isolated or unsecure locations, where one master key could operate multiple pieces of equipment, was also marked as a contributing factor.
The CMC also said some gangs were using their knowledge of car theft and re-birthing and transferring it to heavy equipment theft.
The report said some organised crime gang members were involved in the construction and mining industries or had “links to industry insiders,” and such links made it easier for gangs to gain access to equipment.
According to the report QLD heavy equipment thefts increased from 132 in 2007 to 231 in 2011, a 75 per cent increase.
Regional QLD, with its agriculture, mining, and large infrastructure projects was the heaviest hit, and Toowoomba, Dalby, Mackay, and Rockhampton were marked as the “hot spots”.
You can read the full CMC report here.