DAF Hikes Capacity at Eindhoven

DAF’s long-running capacity issues are to be addressed by the investment of €25 / £16.64 / $32.4 million in the Eindhoven plant, a move that will see daily capacity move from 180 to 300 units per day.A pattern is beginning to emerge here: not so long ago Volvo announced a hike in its Ghent plant’s capacity, and now DAF is doing the same. What are we to make of all of this in times of a falling market and more expensive money?

The rising wages of sin

If the value of losses or the threat to human life are true indicators, we are losing ground in the fight against truck crime. Last year hijackings were up by 53%. That equated to 129 drivers abducted for their cargos as opposed to 84 the previous year. The value of the vehicles stolen was the same year on year at £24m, but the value of the loads increased dramatically - perhaps a sign that the criminals are becoming more intelligence-led in their activities.

Hijacked loads were worth £60m in 2005; last year's haul was over £81m. At £105.2m the combined value of stolen trucks and loads topped £100m for the first time - an increase of almost 25%.

Detective Constable Andy Round of TruckPol says cargo-led crime is increasingly targeted. While the police are making progress at tracking specific gangs and putting names to faces, they are also painfully aware that many thefts are facilitated by insiders. Although drivers may be extremely careful about sharing details of loads and routes with those they don't know, they may not realise that friends and family can unwittingly reveal details of their job, or be put under pressure to do so.

The intelligence angle is supported by the huge peak in thefts of household goods and building materials, including the high-value metals crucial to developing economies. The TruckPol report for the last quarter of 2006 notes: "Ferrous and non-ferrous metals continue to be targeted by thieves due to the high price and demand by developing countries such as China.

"The Midlands region seems to suffer the brunt of the attacks but offences have occurred in Kent, Surrey and Cambridge," it adds.

About 110 such incidents occurred between September and December, compared with 130 loads of household goods snatched in the same period. These loads are not stolen for their high value but because they are the easiest stolen goods to sell.

London remains the capital of truck crime with almost 140 thefts in the last quarter. But while the area is a magnet for thieves, the problem is widespread with Kent, West Yorkshire, Essex, West Midlands and the Thames Valley all reporting between 60 and 80 truck crimes in the last quarter of 2006.

To emphasise the nationwide nature of the problem TruckPol has moved out of its base in the Met police area to Dunsmore, Warwickshire, where it forms part of the newly formed ACPO Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service. The initiative is still funded by its industry sponsors, whose money is matched by the Home Office.

DC Round emphasises that the fight against freight crime demands the vigilance and co-operation of the industry, both to maintain best practice and to inform and educate the police. "The main areas of concern remain keys left unattended," he says. "Don't forget, thieves will use any cunning lie to get the driver out of his cab."