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2/26/2014 | Construction Blog

The next time you think your crane, backhoe, or front end loader will be there in the morning, pause for a moment and consider if you are doing all you can to protect your equipment.

front-end-loaderAccording to the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the National Equipment Register, theft of heavy construction equipment happens more often than one might think. In their 2012 report, the two organizations estimate the value of stolen heavy construction equipment to be between $300 million and $400 million. Taking into account the fact that the equipment is only identified and recovered 20% of the time, such a loss is permanent on most occasions.

A number of factors contribute to the problem. The most glaring issue is that while heavy construction equipment has an identification number associated with it, these numbers are not stored in any database or otherwise organized fashion like VIN numbers with cars. Adding to the problem is the fact that most heavy equipment uses the same key to unlock the cab and run the equipment. The one size fits all key makes the logistics of theft easier. Unfamiliarity with the area where a project is being constructed and poor site security also contributes to the problem.

There is no perfect solution to protecting your heavy equipment from theft. A few simple steps can be undertaken to lessen the risk though. Mark your equipment in a distinct manner that will identify it as belonging to your company. Tell employees not to leave keys in the equipment when it is not being operated, limit the number of people with access to them, and have the person in charge collect them for storage or to be taken home each night. Develop a strategy to keep watch over your project site and, where necessary, engage security personnel to assist in the effort. This can even be built into your bid in some circumstances.

Like most risk management, knowing there is a problem and using common sense to address it will help. If your company uses heavy equipment (owned or rented), take some time to review your situation and be sure you are taking appropriate steps to protect a valuable asset.