A new specialist police unit tasked with targeting plant and machinery theft has launched.

The newly established dedicated Agricultural and Construction Equipment (ACE) specialist police unit will be managed and operated within Opal, the national intelligence unit focused on serious organised acquisitive crime (SOAC) across the UK.

The unit will focus on the offences committed by organised crime groups which are part of a series and involve cross-border offending. By developing proactive working relationships with law enforcement, partner and business agencies, the ACE Unit will work to reduce the theft of stolen plant and agricultural equipment and maximise the recovery of stolen equipment, both nationally and internationally.

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Officers from ACE will work to develop, collate and co-ordinate intelligence from a variety of sources to identify and disrupt organised criminality and target those involved in these thefts. It will also identify any current and emerging crime trends and threats.

Superintendent Andy Huddleston, NPCC lead for agricultural machinery theft, commented: “The launch of the ACE team will massively help the fight against agricultural machinery theft – the sharing of intelligence and targeting of organised crime groups in this specialist area of thefts is key. I very much look forward to working with the team and the operational benefits this will bring to UK policing.”

Detective Inspector Ernie Locke, Opal National Intelligence Unit, Serious and Organised Acquisitive Crime, added: “Our role has many facets, including problem-solving skills; delivering the four Ps strategy of prepare, prevent, protect and pursue; identifying emerging threats; and intelligence on a regional, national and international level.

“By working collaboratively, sharing best practice and the timely sharing of information, the ACE unit will help reduce agricultural and construction equipment theft.  It’s a very exciting time for the team and I would like to thank all the ‘donors’ that made establishing this new unit possible.”

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