As the economy has become more stable over the past several years, many construction owners have again started to purchase construction equipment for their businesses. This creates new challenges for equipment owners concerned with not only fulfilling the demand for equipment, but also protecting the assets they own and finding solutions to keep these assets out of the hands of thieves.
Unlike traditional auto theft, which is seen more in major cities around the country, construction theft is not confined to city streets and urban areas. Suburban regions, where construction growth is prevalent and where construction vehicles are at work on active jobsites, are considered high-risk areas for commercial theft.
According to the American Rental Association’s Rental Market Monitor (compiled by the leading economic research firm IHS Global Insight) the growth in construction industry spending will reach double-digits in 2014 and 2015, with construction and industrial equipment rental revenue expected to reach $30.9 billion in 2017. The increased demand for construction work and equipment should bring discussion of equipment theft to the forefront—especially considering the fact that the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has recently reported that $300 million to close to $1 billion a year is lost nationwide due to the theft of construction equipment and tools.
A recent Cygnus Business Media Research Study commissioned by LoJack and NICB showed that the majority of equipment owners (a full 71 percent) have experienced equipment theft. Rental equipment is especially susceptible to theft, since renters may not invest in the same precautions as they would have if they owned the equipment. While a wide range of equipment is stolen every year, certain types of equipment proved the most popular with thieves in 2012, including:
- Light utility vehicles and work trucks
- Backhoe loaders/skip loaders/wheel loaders
- Towables, like generators and air compressors
- Skid steers
It’s no surprise that equipment theft can be extremely costly to owners of construction equipment. Owners could not only lose valuable tools, but could also pay the price resulting from business downtime or even worse, the loss of customers altogether. The good news? There are a number of ways equipment owners and renters can protect their construction equipment from theft. Here are some helpful suggestions:
- Know the jobsite: Always be familiar with the jobsite and the method of how equipment will be stored after hours, or when projects are on hold. Even when owners are familiar with the jobsite, they can significantly minimize theft by picking up their equipment as soon as possible.
- Require proper identification: If renting equipment, require proper identification for all applicants and require that the applicant disclose information about who will be operating the equipment. Similarly, if you own equipment and are managing a construction project, conduct thorough background checks on operators.
- Implement security measures: Invest in layers of protection, such as security personnel to monitor jobsites on weekends and holidays. Even when equipment is not being used for a job, hire security to check on stagnant equipment.
- Install tracking devices: There are various theft prevention devices that can be installed to ward off thieves or improper use. Covert theft recovery devices, such as the LoJack® Stolen Vehicle Recovery System, can help police locate stolen equipment quickly and without alerting the thief that they are being tailed.
- Report incidents of theft/fraud: In the event that you fall victim to equipment theft or rental fraud, always report the full details of the incident to local authorities. This information will protect you from being targeted in the future, and help inform any ongoing investigations that may help police catch repeat offenders.
Criminals have found that equipment theft is a lucrative business and have discovered an industry that is much less monitored and protected. As LoJack has seen during its more than 25 years of experience in tracking and recovering mobile assets, thieves target property that can be taken with ease, and then look to quickly turn a profit or a job. Equipment owners must be knowledgeable of all aspects of a jobsite, and need to invest in security early so they don’t end up paying later. ■
For More Information:
Courtney DeMilio is associate vice president of commercial with LoJack Corporation. For more information, visit www.lojack.com/construction.
Modern Contractor Solutions, January 2014
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