The rental and construction industry commonly faces a major issue that plagues companies across the board: theft. This problem encompasses the pilferage of small tools, power tools, and the most costly and weighty equipment. Among the targeted items are skid steers, utility vehicles, dump trucks, and even excavators. While theft incidents occur nationwide, some of the most significant cases take place in Texas, Florida, and California. Often, these incidents transpire at dealerships or vacant job sites. Being able to determine the whereabouts of your equipment, especially when it’s not in its designated location, can save you substantial amounts of time and money.
According to a report by the National Equipment Register in 2022, equipment theft resulted in an estimated loss of approximately $400 million. The motivation behind stealing from job sites raises questions. What drives individuals to engage in such actions? The answer lies in the appeal of your equipment’s quality, age, and resalable brand names. This leaves you with one less piece of equipment in your possession. In 2016, the top five states accounted for 45% of all thefts, that being Texas, North Carolina, Florida, California and Georgia. The situation has only deteriorated since then. With lenient punishments for thieves who are apprehended, the temptation for them to snatch valuable items from under your nose grows stronger.
While theft can occur sporadically, it becomes a substantial problem when it happens too frequently. Incidents of theft are most prevalent during holidays when job sites are often left unattended and inadequately supervised as people spend time with their families. If you lack sufficient security measures for your job site, such as GPS tracking devices, cameras, and adequate lighting, you will likely find yourself at the top of thieves’ target list.
So, what steps should you take if your job site is at risk of theft?
- Install GPS tracking devices on all equipment, preferably ones that can alert you when they are turned on or moved from a particular area.
- Utilize GPS tracking tools to set up a geofence, creating a boundary around the job site. Whenever something enters or exits this boundary, you will receive an alert.
- Implement motion-detecting lighting around the job site.
- Secure all equipment using chains, locks, and sturdy boxes.
- Instruct your employees to double-check the location of equipment and hold them accountable for knowing its last known position.
- Regularly inspect your fence line to ensure each section is structurally sound. Criminals may gradually cut through sections of the fence to make it less noticeable. When the time comes to commit the theft, they will make the final cut and remove your assets.
Numerous stories recount incidents of theft across different states. However, if we were to focus on the most prevalent cases in 2022, Texas, particularly the city of Houston, stands out as the most targeted location.
Allow me to share one experience involving a stolen tractor that caused significant stress for all parties involved. It was the summer of 2022, around 3 a.m., when the tractor was driven out of a client’s yard and taken to a cement storage building over the course of an hour. Typically, most tracked assets with GPS devices are hardwired. However, criminals often disconnect any wires connected to the engine battery terminal to deactivate the device. In this instance, though, the asset was equipped with a covert, battery-powered GPS device. When the client realized the asset was missing, they sent an SOS command to the device, prompting it to increase its reporting frequency from once every 24 hours to more frequent updates. The device started reporting at shorter intervals and indicated that the asset had remained motionless for nearly 30 days. Then, one day, our client received an alert that the device was in motion. They promptly contacted the authorities and successfully recovered the asset. Throughout this period, the criminals likely searched the equipment for any trace of a GPS device, assuming that anything relying on the primary power source would be rendered useless. Consequently, they deemed it safe to remove the equipment from the building.
Fortunately, this particular experience had a positive outcome for our client. However, it is important to recognize that not all business owners will have the same fortune. More often than not, many business owners will spend countless hours dealing with insurance claims and witnessing their insurance fees increase or even coverage being dropped. While occasional losses are inevitable and beyond our control, there are ways to minimize them.
If you are in charge of a job site, it is crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the equipment’s whereabouts before, during, and after a project. It can be immensely frustrating for a company to make countless calls, send out personnel, and exchange numerous emails in an attempt to locate or retrieve specific tools or equipment necessary for the job. GPS technology has revolutionized the daily tracking of equipment, ensuring that you are always informed. This knowledge empowers companies to proactively prevent theft.