Preventing Equipment theft
$1,000,000,000! This is the estimated theft loss total for construction equipment and tools each year. Theft of tools and equipment is nothing new and is not limited to urban areas. The most common time for a theft to occur is on the weekend as it is estimated that 90% of equipment thefts occur between 6:00 p.m. Friday and 6:00 a.m. Monday. So what can one do to help reduce the likelihood that a theft will happen to you?
- For large projects that require tools and equipment to be left at a jobsite, storing these items in locked trailers is not enough of a deterrent for a would-be thief. Many times, burglars will cut the padlocks or door hinges off to gain access. Parking vehicles or other large machinery next to the trailers (boxing the access doors in) increases the difficulty of gaining access to the trailer. The harder it is for thieves to break in to your trailer, the more likely it is that they will look somewhere else for something that is easier to break in to.
- Store equipment/trailers in well-lit areas. Again, the more illuminated an area is, the harder it will be for a thief to go unnoticed.
- Take note of any distinct marks or damage on your equipment. I handled a claim where the insured’s skid steer was stolen from a Hurricane Katrina damage site. The insured knew the skid steer had damage to the cab on the top right corner from a prior incident. A year later in Oklahoma he was working and spotted a skid steer with the same type of damage as his stolen one at another job site. The serial number was scratched off on the exterior, but this model of skid steer (and all others) has the serial number stamped on the engine block on the back side of the motor. The insured knew his machine inside and out, which ultimately led to the recovery of the stolen unit.
- Disable vehicles/larger equipment by removing spark plugs, keys, etc. when leaving for the weekend.
- Complete periodic inventory checks and store tools/equipment so that it will be obvious if something is missing.
- Talk to other contractors working at the jobsite. Have they had problems with theft or heard of any other thefts? Mark your tools with a die stamp or engraver on two spots: one hidden and one obvious.
- For smaller jobs, take the time to pack up the tools/equipment at the end of the day/week. The extra few minutes it takes to load the items up will save you hours of filing police reports/insurance claims and purchasing replacements, which will ultimately delay you from completing the project on time.
Josh Aberle, CPCU, AIC
Property Supervisor, Claim