LoJack Corp., Canton, Mass., last week released its 12th annual Construction Equipment Theft Study. According to the report, LoJack-equipped construction assets worth about $8.8 million were recovered in 2011. A total of 40 people were arrested by the police as a result of recoveries involving these assets.
Since entering the construction market in 2000, the LoJack System has helped law enforcement recover LoJack-equipped stolen construction assets worth more than $130.5 million and bust nearly 80 chop shops and theft rings.
“As we look back on 2011, we’re pleased with the ongoing benefits the LoJack System contributes to the construction industry and society at large,” said Courtney DeMilio, national director, commercial division, LoJack Corp. “Not only does the system directly impact the bottom line of construction businesses by recovering equipment quickly, enabling them to keep working, but it helps get the bad guys off the streets. Many of these criminals are professional thieves who are part of theft rings that may commit other serious illegal activities.”
LoJack says the cost of equipment theft continues to vary between $300 million to $1 billion annually.
As has been the case in previous years, professional thieves can be particularly successful with construction equipment theft in part because it is an easier crime to perpetrate. Most job sites have poor security; open cabs are easy to access; one key can fit all pieces of equipment; and there is a general lack of product identification numbers/records in the industry, the company says.
One recovery story that exemplifies the benefit of busting chop shops involved a rented LoJack-equipped compressor that was stolen and ultimately led California police to not only track down the equipment, but also uncover a chop shop with more than $226,500 in other non-LoJack-equipped stolen equipment.
The most stolen equipment list has a very similar profile to last year’s report and reflects an uptick in construction jobs, as these types of equipment are most often found on job sites. The types of equipment most frequently stolen are (in order):
- Light utility/work trucks and trailers (36 percent).
- Backhoe loaders/skip loaders/wheel loaders/track loaders (26 percent).
- Skid-steers (14 percent).
- Generators/air compressors/welders (11 percent).
The top four equipment types represented 87 percent of all construction equipment recoveries documented by LoJack in 2011. Fifty-eight percent of the equipment stolen and recovered was five years old or less and 75 percent was recovered in 24 hours or less after being reported to the police. Seven percent of the equipment was recovered in less than one hour.
Based on LoJack’s recovery data, the list below reflects the top states with the highest occurrence of equipment theft. These states either have many active construction projects and/or an international border or access to major shipping ports, making them primary theft areas.
- New York
- North Carolina
- New Jersey
- Maryland and Washington
LoJack’s also offers the following advice on how to protect equipment and businesses from the costly problem of theft:
- Keep good records. Since titles and registration of equipment is not mandated, be sure to label all equipment with unique product identification or owner applied numbers. Consider marking the equipment in multiple places with the numbers. Also be certain to record the manufacturer, model number, year, PIN and purchase date along with serial numbers for all component parts to be able to identify equipment in the event of theft. The American Rental Association (ARA) also has been a partner with National Equipment Register (NER), which maintains a database of equipment theft and registered ownership records. As part of the partnership, ARA members can register up to 1,000 pieces of mobile, off-road equipment on NER’s HELPTech database at no cost through ARArental.org or ner.net.
- Secure your site. If at all possible, fence in the job site and install security cameras and motion sensors. Park the equipment close together, in a circle with smaller pieces in the center, if possible. Communicate with law enforcement to request frequent patrols, especially if the job site is located in a known high-theft area.
- Use theft deterrents and proven recovery systems. Immobilization devices such as wheel locks, fuel shut-offs and ignition locks are possible deterrents, as are battery-disconnect switches. Howver, if professional thieves target specific equipment, they can generally get around deterrents. A proven tracking/recovery system integrated with police puts recovery is in the hands of law and can help protect your equipment.
The 2011 LoJack Construction Equipment Theft Report is based on state theft statistics and equipment recoveries documented by LoJack in 21 states from January to December 2011. LoJack has been tracking theft/recovery data for the past 12 years.