Amid City Construction Boom, Thieves Heist Heavy Machinery

As Moscow's construction boom continues unabated, thieves and robbers continue to heist heavy machinery such as cranes and cement mixers from local construction sites.

Three KamAZ cranes and one cement truck have been stolen in Moscow in the past five days, police sources said Tuesday.

In the latest incident, two unidentified assailants attacked the Uzbek driver of a KamAZ crane Monday on Varshavskoye Shosse in southern Moscow and drove off, a police source told RIA-Novosti.

The crane, worth an estimated 2.25 million rubles ($95,000), was discovered later in the Moscow region village of Sukhanovo, 10 kilometers southwest of Moscow, the source said. No one had been detained in connection with the crime as of Tuesday.

Experts say a dearth of such heavy machinery amid the city's construction boom can make a crane theft a profitable enterprise. "These machines are expensive and in short supply," said Vladimir Pantyushin, head of the economic and strategic research group at Jones Lang LaSalle. "These cranes are being used up to 24 hours a day. They can't travel very far but are easy to sell back for high profits."

On Friday, three separate cranes were stolen in Moscow.

A 42-year-old Kyrgyz man got lost while driving a KamAZ crane and was attacked by armed assailants on Novodanilovskaya Naberezhnaya, a police source told The Moscow Times.

The attackers climbed up into the salon of the crane and assaulted the driver, shooting him with a gas pistol when he tried to resist, the source said.

The robbers drove the crane, worth an estimated 5.5 million rubles ($234,000) out to the Leninsky district of the Moscow region, where they abandoned the Kyrgyz driver and drove off, the source said.

The same day, thieves stole a KamAZ crane on Bolotnikovskaya Ulitsa, near the Varshavskaya metro station in southwestern Moscow, Interfax reported. The crane was worth an estimated 6 million rubles ($255,000), the report said.