A leading police officer has called for the introduction of a national crime recording standard for equipment theft.

Surrey Police detective inspector Stuart Sang said that the recovery rate for plant and equipment theft was less than 10%.

He was speaking at the the National Plant & Equipment Register (TER) conference this week where insurers were urged to tighten up security standards for plant and equipment.

TER manager Tim Purbrick said insurers were the "critical party" in the battle against plant and equipment theft.

"Insurers should set minimum security standards for plant and equipment. These standards should be a condition of cover," Purbrick said.

TER estimated that £50m of plant and equipment was stolen in the UK every year.

Purbrick said plant and equipment was vulnerable to theft because often one type of key started many different models. He urged manufacturers to move from the use of universal keys to unique keys. He said by demanding insureds adopted minimum security standards, insurers could reduce premiums and claims.

An AXA spokesman said plant and equipment theft could be reduced by improved risk management.