Fork lift truck batteries worth many thousands of pounds are being brazenly stolen right under companies’ noses, often in broad daylight, the UK industry body has warned.

The Fork Lift Truck Association sounded the urgent alert to all users of electric-powered fork lifts, after suddenly receiving a spate of confirmed reports about companies being tricked into parting with the highly valuable lead-acid batteries, by criminals posing as engineers.

In one case, in the North of England, thieves even convinced a company to use its own fork lift truck to help load the batteries into their van, before driving away, never to be seen again.

Similar incidents are being reported across the UK, as the scrap value of the heavy traction batteries – weighing anything up to 2,500kg each – approaches £500 per tonne.

In the Midlands, criminals in a white Mercedes Sprinter van, were given free access to load and take away two batteries, while in Bedfordshire batteries valued at £15,000 were stolen in a single raid on what had been believed to be a secure compound.

There are currently an estimated 200,000 electric-powered fork lift trucks working in the UK, with some companies also using additional batteries for multi-shift operations.

Fork Lift Truck Association chief executive David Ellison warns: “All users of electric fork lift trucks must be vigilant.

“Many of the victims so far have been easy prey for criminals because they simply didn’t realise they were targets. Quite simply, if you use an electric truck, you are.

“Thieves don’t care about the retail or rental cost of the battery – the scrap value alone is what they’re after – so any fork lift truck battery is potentially at risk.

“Our strong advice is to carefully check the identification and authority of any ‘engineer’ visiting your site – and to ensure batteries are kept very secure when not attended.”

Police are understood to be monitoring the situation as reports of such thefts continues to increase.

David Ellison concludes: “Any suspicious activity, or actual losses, should be reported to your local police immediately.”