Safety watch: Preventing equipment theft

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Updated Nov 1, 2021

Shutterstock 1109038223As a business owner who’s invested an ample amount of time and money into landscaping equipment, it would be devastating to have a piece of said equipment stolen.

Equipment theft, most commonly considered a crime of opportunity, can occur at any time of the day and can range from something as small as a string trimmer to larger pieces like mowers.

Take a look at how you can work to keep your equipment safe and out of harm’s way.

Driving force behind equipment thefts

Because machinery is left unattended more frequently in December and January, these months are typically when most equipment thefts occur.

According to Warren Cat, several factors fuel the market for stolen landscaping and construction equipment, including the commanding rate of items and parts, soft sentences for those who are caught, lack of jobsite surveillance, the ability of thieves to evade capture, the simplistic process of selling stolen parts and the likelihood of not being detected in the act.

“In a nutshell, equipment theft is driven by easy access and resale value,” Warren Cat stated online. “Any piece of equipment that has a lucrative brand name, is relatively new and can easily be loaded or driven off could be considered an easy target for theft at any given worksite.”

Prevention tips

The National Equipment Register (NER) recommends registering all equipment, as well as marking it with your landscaping company’s name or logo. Be sure that this branding is difficult to remove or consider making items a color that will stand out from the crowd.

Before leaving for the day or for the season, be sure to test out all alarms and lights to make sure they are in working condition. On that same note, be sure to check into every false alarm that might arise, as thieves could be watching your property to see how responsive you are.

Take time to test out your camera systems in both the day and night to ensure the images are able to capture faces, license plates and other crucial information. Additionally, it’s important to keep detailed records of all of your equipment, especially PINs, serial numbers, makes, models, actual photos of the equipment and production and purchase dates.

Warren Cat also recommends keeping up with equipment theft trends. In the Northeast United States, Warren Cat notes, the most frequently targeted worksite vehicles include tractors, snow removal wheel loaders and skid steers, whereas in the Western areas of the country, backhoe thefts have risen.

Move any lightweight or highly targeted pieces of equipment into secure areas of your site, and be sure to never leave anything on a trailer, as the equipment and trailer itself can also be easily stolen.

Check the perimeter of your business and make sure that all gates and fences provide a full and complete barrier to neighboring vacant lands or adjoining businesses.

Talk to neighboring businesses that might be open during the holidays about keeping an eye out for your company, and make sure they have your emergency contact information in case they need to get in contact with you.

Along those same lines, if your company will be shutting down for the holidays/winter, designate someone on your crew to stop by the jobsite periodically to make sure things are still safe and locked down. Another idea is to hire private night guards or after-hours surveillance if crew members will not be available during the holidays.

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