Engine thefts

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16 years

Posts: 1,627

I'm not sure if this is the right forum but here goes anyway.As you might have seen on various sites, there have been at least 20 thefts of Rotax 912 engines from aircraft in the last couple of months. This engine is just about the standard for most microlights and the new "plastic fantastic" so will find a ready market, probably elsewhere in Europe. So how does this affect us as enthusiasts? Well, I was at the Fly-In at Old Buckenham on Sunday and talking to a well known microlight strip owner he told me that he has already put up a sign saying "No Spotters" as he reckoned that the thieves were using our hobby as cover. These guys are very sophisticated in that they are only taking low time engines so obviously use all available sources of information for their targets. There is a thread running elsewhere on this forum seeking information on the whereabouts of a specific aircraft and although I'm sure it is done with the best intent I think we ought to be careful with what is put on here. I don't know the answer but it is a problem.

Original post

Member for

10 years 11 months

Posts: 1,744

Yeah, two weeks ago they hit an airfield nearby (the Netherlands). Two Rotax 912s, both relatively lowtime. Engine mounts, turbo, accessoiries, engine instruments and all. Lots of collatoral damage to the airframe in the process, very crude removal. They're not the first on the continental side of the Channel. Suspected to go to Eastern Europe into the MLA market over there. There's more and more airfields banning non-pilot visitors, to help prevent this kind of brazen theft.

Profile picture for user Sabrejet

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10 years

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There's more and more airfields banning non-pilot visitors, to help prevent this kind of brazen theft.

Which kind of defeats the object - I'm certainly not tarring with any particular brush but it does occur that some of those frequenting airfields in the course of their correct business could well be those doing the deed. And if not at first-hand then more than possibly as a source of good gen. Where else would one find reliable TBO/SMOH detail etc?

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11 years 4 months

Posts: 921

hi,
I did read a comment from a airfield manager after a recent theft "I hope he gets a good long sentence, and when he gets out I will offer him a job cause he removed the engine etc very professionally". There was also a case recently on the continent where 2 or 3 east Europeans were stopped and they had 6 engines all from Italy, do "spotters" in these other countries get blamed, or is it a English thingy?

regards,
jack...

this post may contain grammatical errors...

Member for

10 years 11 months

Posts: 1,744

Where else would one find reliable TBO/SMOH detail etc?

One aircraft involved was brandnew. No rocket science there to figure out low TBO time. The other was in the same hangar.

Member for

10 years 11 months

Posts: 1,744

hi,
I did read a comment from a airfield manager after a recent theft "I hope he gets a good long sentence, and when he gets out I will offer him a job cause he removed the engine etc very professionally". There was also a case recently on the continent where 2 or 3 east Europeans were stopped and they had 6 engines all from Italy, do "spotters" in these other countries get blamed, or is it a English thingy?

Not the same thief as a case I saw recently then, where the aircraft suffered 8K euros worth of collatoral damage from a hacksaw being used to cut the motor mounts...

Member for

10 years 11 months

Posts: 1,744

To be fair, discouraging visits from non-pilots seems to be just one measure. Less people on site means less info about the site being shared in the public domain. Same goes for a close look at the Facebook postings some owners make. "Hooray: aircraft X flying again after fitting a new zero-houred engine" does not help for a low-profile in the public domain.

Profile picture for user Planemike

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12 years 3 months

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hi,
I did read a comment from a airfield manager after a recent theft "I hope he gets a good long sentence, and when he gets out I will offer him a job cause he removed the engine etc very professionally". There was also a case recently on the continent where 2 or 3 east Europeans were stopped and they had 6 engines all from Italy, do "spotters" in these other countries get blamed, or is it a English thingy?

regards,
jack...

this post may contain grammatical errors...

Just too easy to blame spotters......

Profile picture for user Sabrejet

Member for

10 years

Posts: 1,740

To be fair, discouraging visits from non-pilots seems to be just one measure. Less people on site means less info about the site being shared in the public domain. Same goes for a close look at the Facebook postings some owners make. "Hooray: aircraft X flying again after fitting a new zero-houred engine" does not help for a low-profile in the public domain.

The gist of my post above was that it's not beyond impossible that at least one pilot might be involved in said thefts: thus rather pointless excluding one group and pretending the problem has gone.

Member for

14 years 5 months

Posts: 2,810

Prune has a developing thread on this
http://www.pprune.org/private-flying/583257-rotax-912-engine-thefts-plane-spotters.html
My pilot had a brand new laptop stolen from his home and its likely that the thief knew which house to target as it is known that dodgy shop assistants sell lists of addresses to criminals . Plane spotters have little interest in engines and what hours they have.

Member for

9 years

Posts: 6,467

Is there available a reasonably sized tracking device with a sensible range that can be unobtrusively attached to the engine? I've operated a Rotax on a Group A for the last twelve or so years. Their use is not confined to microlites which tend to use the smaller two stroke Rotax's

There is probably more uptake of the Rotax for Group A than any other category. Many of these a/c are kept on fairly isolated farm strips. The opportunity for successful theft is therefore good.

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15 years 5 months

Posts: 9,665

It's not just engines.
A farmer friend from Kent recently visited my rural area and was shocked that farmers/ranchers leave equipment in the fields at night.
He said, if he did anything like that, they'd either steal or strip the tractor or at least drain the petrol.

Probably word got around the criminal community that the engines had a ready market on the continent...
I wouldn't buy any engine without supporting documents or logs, or do Rotax's not have any?

Profile picture for user Newforest

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14 years 11 months

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Is there available a reasonably sized tracking device with a sensible range that can be unobtrusively attached to the engine?

http://www.studylifestyle.com/2016/trackr/10/?cid=12&utm_term=dailymail-row&sxid=ao8kriwck8jc

This is a new product which seems very promising, but I don't see any reference to the active range. I have no recommendation or connection with this product.

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9 years

Posts: 6,467

Newforest,

Many thanks for that useful link. I've contacted, asking for average range details.

Profile picture for user avion ancien

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12 years 8 months

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I wouldn't buy any engine without supporting documents or logs, or do Rotax's not have any?

No doubt many of these thefts are to order and there are sophisticated operators managing these and fencing their results. I suspect that such sophisticated operators will not find it much of a challenge to produce convincing fake documentation for the engines as they re-emerge into the supply chain.

I must say that I'm amazed that a topic with no connection whatosever to aviation history has survived so long on this forum without being shifted to the GA forum!

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9 years

Posts: 6,467

Perhaps the subject is so serious that it deserves the widest possible publicity.

Profile picture for user paul178

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9 years

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It's not just engines.
A farmer friend from Kent recently visited my rural area and was shocked that farmers/ranchers leave equipment in the fields at night.
He said, if he did anything like that, they'd either steal or strip the tractor or at least drain the petrol.

Its Land Rover Defenders that is the target now
Profile picture for user Beermat

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10 years 5 months

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No doubt many of these thefts are to order and there are sophisticated operators managing these and fencing their results. I suspect that such sophisticated operators will not find it much of a challenge to produce convincing fake documentation for the engines as they re-emerge into the supply chain.

If documentation is being faked before entry into the supply chain, why the focus on low-time engines?

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9 years

Posts: 6,467

If the engines are low time there won't be that much of a paper trail regarding servicing and maintenance records that can, for example, be cross referenced, because the engines will have been thru' few hands.

Profile picture for user 27vet

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10 years 4 months

Posts: 2,675

Can't be Gypsies.