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Preventing construction equipment theft

You walk onto your construction site on a Thursday morning. As you sit down for your morning coffee, a skid steer operator taps you on the shoulder. He explains to you that one of the skid steers is missing, most likely stolen. 

Scenarios like this happen daily all over the world. In 2017, a Canadian-based construction company experienced 4 thefts in just one year. In recent years many companies in both North America and Europe have been observing increases in machine theft. 

Being able to recover stolen items, or prevent theft as a whole, could save your company hundreds of thousands a year. Today, equipment owners are in a fortunate position where GPS trackers and telematics systems are widely available and have significant benefits for your fleet.  

The state of stolen construction equipment in the US 

Locked gate at a construction site to prevent construction equipment theft

In the US, stolen machinery costs the industry an estimated $400 million every year, with some estimates reaching $1 billion. 

Numbers from The National Equipment Register (NER) and National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB)

In 2015, the NER released a theft report in cooperation with the NICB outlining data from the US.

According to this study, the states with the most thefts are: 

  1. Texas

  2. North Carolina

  3. Florida 

  4. South Carolina 

  5. California

These 5 states account for roughly 44% of all equipment theft in the US. You might be thinking that the state you operate in should be relatively safe in comparison. But, the high percentage also correlates to the number of machines in the state. So, although your state isn’t on the list, it is still important to track your machinery. 

In their report, the NER has found that in many cases, equipment theft occurs off-site. That means that as a construction or rental company, thieves are getting to machines outside of your fenced-off, secure depot. 

Assets have a low recovery rate of around 22%. That is why your company must increase security at your locations by leveraging improvements in technology and telematics. 

The state of construction equipment theft in Europe

Empty construction site with no equipment

Europe, just like the US, has seen an uptick in heavy equipment and asset theft. Per year, stolen equipment costs the industry €1.5 billion in Europe

Numbers from the European Rental Association (ERA) and JRT Insurance

Between 2016 and 2018, claims doubled in the UK alone. This trend is also seen elsewhere in Europe, with theft in Belgium and France also rising. 

Of the €1.5 billion lost because of theft, 30,000 assets were worth at least €10,000, of which only 5-20% was recovered. That is significantly lower than the recovery rate of other vehicles like cars, which comes in at 50-60%. 

Man making sure his machines are being tracked to prevent equipment theft

Why is machine theft such a problem?

Unlike many other types of vehicles, larger machines come with little to no protection pre-installed. This means that if equipment goes missing, the chance of recovering that equipment is low. 

Also, construction sites usually don’t have high-level security in place. So when workers leave after their shifts, and leave a key in the ignition or leave the machine in a position that makes it vulnerable to thieves, it can result in missing equipment. With GPS tracking devices, rental and construction companies alike can take action to deter thieves and prevent theft. 

Theft prevention for construction equipment 

Recovering or replacing stolen items can be time-consuming, result in unforeseen costs, and be a source of downtime. Preventing theft is impossible without implementing new security protocols. But, with improvements in technology and telematics, you can drastically improve the chance of recovery. With the Trackunit system, you can track your heavy equipment and smaller assets to make sure your entire fleet is connected.

The Trackunit equipment tracking device to improve stolen machine recovery rate

Using a tracking device

With Trackunit Raw, you get virtually real-time updates. When your machine is on, the GPS tracking device will send location, utilization, and machine data every 2 mins. When it is off, it will do so every 15 minutes. This ensures that you’re always kept up to date with the latest information about your machine. This won’t stop your equipment from being stolen but can drastically improve the recovery rate.

Geofence alarms

Setting up a geofence alarm warns you if the equipment is in an unfamiliar area and can help you recover your machine. These alarms are based on a specified area that you can designate using Trackunit Manager. If your equipment moves out of that zone, you’ll get a notification informing you that it has been moved. This could help you prevent construction equipment theft in its tracks by making you aware of suspicious activity on your or your customer’s site outside of working hours. 

Tracking your high-value equipment with GPS technology can be beneficial to your company. Whether you’re worried about your smaller equipment or your heavy equipment, there will be a greater likelihood of recovering your machines when you use tracking devices. Using a combination of increased site security at your location and constant tracking of your equipment, your customers, employees, and yourself will save time and money by preventing theft. 

Increase your theft recovery rate with Trackunit today. 

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