Pallet Thefts Are Stacking Up

Pallet Thefts


As a leading Remote Video Receiving Centre (RVRC) and Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), Farsight operates at the frontline of security detection and prevention. This allows us to observe, first hand, emerging crime trends across the UK.  One such trend that is blighting businesses operating across industrial, manufacturing, warehouse & distribution, construction and food service sectors is pallet thefts.

“Pallets, is that all?” you may say…but it may surprise you to learn that according to a survey by the Timber Packaging & Pallet Confederation (TIMCON) and the Forestry Commission – there are  currently around 250 million timber pallets in circulation across the UK.

New wooden pallets can cost from £3.90 to £15.90 per unit, and used wooden pallets cost between £4.50 to £10.90 per unit. These prices differ based on pallet size, weight and load capacity. Pallets also differ in value depending on their timber type – some are made from hard wood such as oak, whilst others are softwood.

Beyond the odd hobbyist ‘borrowing’ a few pallets to craft a piece of garden furniture, evidently, timber pallets have developed a growing ‘demand driven’ black market for timber pallets.

So what is driving the increase in pallet thefts?

According to the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) the timber supply chain has been affected in 2020 by pandemic-related issues as well as changes in market dynamics, with high levels of global demand for timber and wood products causing tight timber supply conditions which will continue “certainly into Q2 2021, if not longer”.

Early in the pandemic many European sawmills were temporarily shut. Lockdowns across the UK and Europe then produced a surge in demand for timber for DIY and garden projects, which began to impact supplies through to Britain’s construction sector. UK demand for timber is coming from an ever-expanding range of consumer and industrial sources. Building and manufacturing in timber is a fashionable choice, aesthetically and environmentally. Demand for pallets is also up.

pallet theft


Then there is the Brexit issue. UK exporters will now be required to use pallets that meet the EU requirements for third-party countries and DEFRA has conceded that there are nowhere near enough of these available in the UK. This could cause a pallet crisis, with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) admitting that there is a huge shortage of pallets in the UK that meet EU requirements for third-country trade with the EU, which must be either heat treated or fumigated in line with ISPM15 procedures.

So we know ‘what’ may be driving the current pallet theft crime spree, but what can be done to reduce the risk of these happening to your business?

Pallets are used by many industry types, many of which store their pallets on closed sites which are less attractive to opportunist pallet thieves are easier to protect from a security perspective as they are generally behind gates and fences protected with remotely monitored CCTV systems especially out of hours, supported by adequate lighting systems.

However, Farsight has seen the highest increase in pallet theft attempts and incidents at industrial estates, many of which have open access to vehicular traffic. Loose or stacked pallets outside of industrial units can be attractive for not only opportunists, but organised gangs of thieves, like these:


Pallet Thieves


Organised gangs with vans or lorries are a regular occurrence seen and responded to by Farsight’s CCTV operators targeting the industrial estates that we monitor across the country.  They go from place to place collecting pallets and stacking their booty high – they seem to know where to find them so would have done some day time ‘spotting’ first.

Thanks to Farsight’s eagle-eyed CCTV operators quick response this incident resulted in arrests being made by police who found a large number of pallets stacked in the van from other industrial estates in the area too.

This type of pallet theft is all too common, across the UK, here is another incident that Farsight responded to – following the same trend.

pallet theft


When stacking pallets for storage, businesses should, if not possible to bring them into a closed/fenced  area, be mindful of making them as ‘unattractive’ as possible to thieves. This includes making sure they are in a well lit area, protected with monitored CCTV and are stacked securely.  Often, pallets are the primary cause CCTV obstructions, so it is worth considering CCTV line of sight whilst also not giving intruders a place to hide to avoid detection.

It is also worth considering working together with other industrial units to better control and manage who comes and goes as well as pooling resources. Farsight recently worked with an industrial estate in Cambridgeshire who have done just that – introducing a secured gate and remote access control (out of hours) monitored by our central station.  We are also now monitoring the whole estate through connecting all the individual businesses’ CCTV cameras into one feed making security monitoring across the estate far more efficient.. Read more here.

CCTV Audio warning are also a powerful deterrent to warn off would be thieves before incidents progress. Audio warnings are an essential part of remotely monitored CCTV security systems. They are often overlooked, but can be highly effective in proactively deterring intruders in real time before things progress: making CCTV a preventative security measure as well as a reactive one, rather than viewing incidents retrospectively.

You can read more about Audio Warnings here.

What is CCTV Monitoring

Farsight has created some further short video resources to help you to optimise your security measures to avoid loss or damage and keep your business premises, assets and people protected…

  1. Why is security lighting so important?
  2. What is CCTV Blind spot?
  3. How to avoid an obscured CCTV view

Want to talk to Farsight about optimising your business security?

Farsight is a leading remote security monitoring centre operating from our purpose built and state-of-the-art Observatory based in Cambridgeshire. We operate across a broad spectrum of industry sectors, including industrial estates across the UK, partnering with thousands of businesses who want peace of mind that their premises, assets and people are protected.

Get in touch with Farsight today to find out how we could help improve your industrial estate security with our range of security monitoring services which include CCTV monitoring as well as Fire & Intruder Alarm monitoring, access control and lone worker protection.  Speak to our friendly, knowledgeable staff on 0845 371 0101 or drop us a line here.

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