A 2008 equipment-theft study commissioned by LoJack and the National Insurance Crime Bureau showed that while most aspects of heavy construction have suffered during the downturn, equipment theft has continued unabated…clocking in at its annual average of $1 billion. And that’s just the amount based on reported thefts. According to statistics, more than two-thirds of equipment owners have fallen victim to a crime that shows no sign of abating on its own, so if you believe it’s time to do something about this, maybe a good place for us to start is by opening our eyes to the simple fact that no business can exist without a market.
With very few exceptions the potential marketplace for stolen construction equipment is made up of you and your competitors, so that narrows things quite a bit. The field shrinks even more when you understand that in a whopping 97% of the cases, the stolen equipment is recovered in the same state in which the theft was reported.
It doesn’t take a study to tell you that the most frequent targets were the most useful and transportable items—backhoe loaders, compact equipment of all kinds, pickups and work trucks, trailers, gensets/compressors/welders, and the full range of attachments—nor should you be surprised to learn that two-thirds of the recovered equipment five years old or less
LoJack’s Guide to Theft Protection provides advice on how to protect equipment and businesses from the costly problem of theft:
* Keep Good Records—Label all equipment with unique identifying numbers, including the product identification numbers (PIN) and the owner-applied number (OAN). Consider marking these numbers in multiple locations on equipment. Keep accurate inventory records, including record manufacturer, model number, year, PIN, and purchase date for each piece of equipment. Record serial numbers of each major component part, and consider registering your equipment with a national database.
* Focus on Physical Site Security—When possible, fence in your equipment. Park equipment close together and in a circle if feasible, with smaller pieces in the center, and chain small equipment to larger equipment. Install onsite security cameras and motion sensors on the job site. Communicate with law enforcement and request more frequent patrols, especially in known high-theft areas.
* Use Theft Deterrents and Proven Recovery Systems—Use immobilization devices such as wheel locks, fuel shut-offs or ignition locks, and consider installing battery-disconnect switches. Use a proven tracking/recovery system that offers time-tested tracking technology and is integrated with police so that recovery is in the hands of the law.
Back to my first point—that without a market there would be no equipment theft business—it’s too bad in a way that vigilantism is not an option, but it makes it all that more important to see that not only the thieves receive justice, but that those who buy from them are put out of business as well.