Criminals are stealing thousands of pounds worth of fork lift truck batteries by posing as engineers, The Fork Lift Truck Association has warned.
The association said it has suddenly started receiving confirmed reports about companies being tricked into parting with the highly valuable lead-acid batteries.
In one case, in the North of England, thieves convinced a company to use its own fork lift truck to help load the batteries into their van, before driving away, never to be seen again.
The scrap value of the heavy traction batteries – weighing anything up to 2,500kg each – approaches £500 per tonne.
In the Midlands, criminals in a white Mercedes Sprinter van, were given free access to load and take away two batteries, while in Bedfordshire batteries valued at £15,000 were stolen in a single raid on what had been believed to be a secure compound.
FLTA chief David Ellison said: “Many of the victims so far have been easy prey for criminals because they simply didn’t realise they were targets. Quite simply, if you use an electric truck, you are.
“Thieves don’t care about the retail or rental cost of the battery – the scrap value alone is what they’re after – so any fork lift truck battery is potentially at risk. Our strong advice is to carefully check the identification and authority of any ‘engineer’ visiting your site – and to ensure batteries are kept very secure when not attended.”
There are currently an estimated 200,000 electric-powered fork lift trucks working in the UK, with some companies also using additional batteries for multi-shift operations.
Police are understood to be monitoring the situation as reports of such thefts continues to increase.