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Whether you're involved in purchasing or maintaining construction equipment for use or sale, you know the immense value it holds.
However, have you contemplated the ever-present threat of theft?
In this comprehensive guide to preventing construction equipment theft, you’ll learn how to begin shielding your assets and keeping your construction equipment secure.
Unveiling the True Costs of Construction Equipment Theft
Theft isn't merely an inconvenience—it poses a significant financial burden on the entire construction industry.
- According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), construction equipment theft is hitting near-record levels in 2023.
- The NICB also reported that upwards of 500,000 items of construction equipment and commercial vehicles have been stolen in the first half of 2023 alone.
- To make matters worse, only about 25% of stolen construction equipment is ever recovered.
Reported figures place the toll of stolen construction equipment at just around one billion dollars annually—resulting in escalated project expenses, operational downtime, “meantime” rental machines, and heightened insurance premiums.
Part of the reason construction equipment theft is so lucrative for thieves and recovery levels are so abysmal is due to the absence of a robust equipment tracking infrastructure.
Unlike cars and trucks, construction equipment doesn’t have the same robust registration procedures. Without these safeguards in place, the sale and use of stolen equipment is less restricted and the recovery is much trickier.
Understanding the types of construction equipment theft can help you formulate protective measures.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), there are several types of construction equipment theft, including:
- Whole Vehicle Theft: Criminals steal an entire piece of equipment, such as excavators, loaders, or bulldozers.
- Component Theft: Thieves target specific parts, such as engines, hydraulic systems, or attachments.
- Trailer Theft: Trailers make equipment easy to transport—for both you and thieves.
- Unauthorized Use: Sometimes, equipment is used without proper authorization—leading to increased equipment wear and tear which robs the true owner of its lifespan.
Knowing these theft types can help you tailor your security measures to prevent them from happening.
With an understanding of costs, explanations, and types, let's explore practical strategies to protect your construction equipment.
The location and security of your equipment storage facilities play a pivotal role in safeguarding your assets. Proper storage practices can deter thieves and safeguard your investment.
Place effective physical security measures into action. Invest in fortified fencing, vigilant surveillance systems, and strict access control to the location. Also, keep a detailed record of equipment inventory, usage data, and robust protocols for equipment keys.
Explore modern theft deterrent technologies, including GPS tracking and immobilization devices—all of which can deter theft or aid in the recovery of stolen equipment.
Such anti-theft technologies include relay immobilizers, GPS tracking devices, wheel locks, and many more.
Also, strategically placed bold company logos can also make thieves think twice about stealing equipment with such overt visual markings.
Even the most secure storage or the latest anti-theft technologies will fail without training your team to help mitigate equipment theft.
Once you have your chosen anti-theft systems in place, ensure that anyone with any storage or machine access thoroughly understands your company’s anti-theft protocol.
Consider putting your systems to the test by responsibly attempting to “steal” your own equipment. These mock thefts may be useful in revealing weaknesses in your anti-theft protocol or team’s vigilance.
Equipping your employees with knowledge about security measures and theft awareness is paramount.
Consider registering your construction equipment with the National Equipment Registry (NER). This is a database of machinery and vehicles that many consult when shopping for equipment to ensure their valid status.
This database is also accessible to law enforcement agencies to identify the rightful owner of a piece of equipment.
Registration with the NER also has a host of benefits for equipment owners, including robust proof of ownership, deterring thieves who target equipment, or even helping lower insurance premiums.
Even with extreme vigilance, theft can sometimes occur.
For this reason, let’s look at the steps to take if your construction equipment is stolen.
Step 1: Report the theft to the police.
Before your construction equipment has the chance to get too far away or be sold again, report everything to the police. Provide the authorities with all known details about the equipment such as make, model, serial number, description, condition, markings, images, last known location, and the like.
Step 2: File an insurance claim.
Because less than 25% of stolen construction equipment is ever recovered, you’ll need to be quick about filing your insurance claim in order to keep operations rolling smoothly—either to get help with rental fees or a replacement.
Step 3: Report the theft to your team or contractors.
Telling your team about stolen construction equipment may help you gather leads to assist in its recovery—or possibly to discover that the equipment was misplaced rather than stolen. It is also a good idea to keep possible clients up to date on the status of your equipment if it will impact timelines for projects.
Safeguarding your construction equipment from theft is imperative for the success of your business. By understanding the types of theft, recognizing the associated costs, and implementing effective prevention methods, you can lower your risk of equipment theft. Be proactive in protecting your assets.
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