Theft of higher value construction, demolition and agricultural plant in Britain was up by 2% in 2007 to 3,630 incidents, according to a report by the National Plant and Equipment Register.

Excavators accounted for 33% of all UK equipment theft by value, at £12.1m, and the number of excavators stolen was up 20% in 2007 to 240 machines.

The report found that the value of equipment stolen during 2007 was up by 11% year on year to £36.6m, with the average value of each theft at £10,100.

The findings resonate with another survey by risk consultant Kroll, which found that the most common type of fraud affecting the global construction industry was theft of physical assets or stock, accounting for 32% of fraud. The survey of 890 senior executives suggests the tough economic climate is fuelling illegal activity.