Known Ways to Lower Your Risk of Heavy Equipment Theft


The 2013 heavy equipment theft report published by the National Equipment Register reveals that thefts are three times more likely to be the cause of equipment loss, as opposed to claims such as vandalism, fire, collision or natural disaster.

While this evidently means there is a real threat to equipment owners, it also shows that the level of risk is highly dependent on the precautions that the owner chooses to take.

In 2013 over $300 million of heavy equipment was stolen in the US, with only 80% ever recovered. The shocking statistics produced by the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the National Equipment Register offer a reminder to all businesses that this is a very serious threat operated by an experienced network of thieves.

By following some of the simple steps below, you can dramatically reduce the likelihood of theft and improve the chances of recovery.

ONSITE – Secure The Equipment:

  • Tall Barriers:
    • Having a secure and high perimeter fence will ensure there are no easy access points into the yard. Make sure this extends to adjacent properties or businesses that the yard backs onto.
    • Try not to use keycode padlocks as employees with the code could pass that information on.
    • Wire ropes and cables are much harder to cut through than standard chains.
    • Use see-through fences if possible as this allows for any unusual activity to be spotted, therefore deterring thieves.
    • Do not park equipment close to the fence as it could allow thieves a way to climb over.
    • On the gates it’s a good idea to use spot-welded hinge pins to prevent easy removal.
  • Motion Lights & CCTV –
    • Test the cameras both at night and during the day time. You want to make sure they can recognize faces and license plates.
    • Some of the newer CCTV systems have apps that alert your phone when the sensor is activated. Thus allowing you to quickly view the camera from anywhere.
    • Position motion lights, far enough from the perimeter so that thieves cannot deactivate them.
  • Alarms –
    • Display Alarms signs throughout the premises and test regularly.
    • If you start to see a rise in false alarms be careful as thieves may be testing your responsiveness.
  • Securing The Equipment –
    • Use lock-out devices such as these:
    • On higher value items you could consider using anti-theft systems that disable fuel, hydraulics or electrical systems.
    • Lower all blades and buckets to make it harder for the equipment to be moved.
    • Keep all keys in a secure area out of hours.
  • Position of equipment –
    • Use the large, heavy machinery to block in smaller highly targeted items.
    • Don’t ever leave equipment sitting on the back of a trailer.
  • Communication –
    • Share emergency contact information with neighboring businesses and agree to watch each other’s businesses for suspicious activity. This is especially important during holiday periods.
    • Create a theft prevention policy and distribute this to all employees. Ensure you listen to their feedback since they are working in the yard daily.

OFF SITE – Register equipment with the NER:

Often when equipment is recovered by the authorities there is no method of identifying the owners. One solution to this problem is to register your equipment with the “National Equipment Register” (NER), which uses product identification numbers and other methods to create a national database. In the event of a theft NER will work with your local law enforcement to help them identify your equipment.

Some of the advantages of registering include:

  • Supply warning decals to help deter thieves
  • Monitor theft trends across the country and send regional alerts when hot spots emerge.
  • Insurance companies offer deductible waivers if companies sign up to NER.
  • Provide a GPS tracking system with a sleeping SIM that can be activated when equipment is stolen.

Despite your very best efforts, you may find that you are unable to stop some thieves from acting. You should ensure that you have suitable insurance in place, offering the standard of cover that won’t leave you out of pocket. Check policies regularly to ensure that they don’t lapse. By taking the appropriate steps above you can reduce the chances of theft and ensure that financial losses are kept to an absolute minimum.

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