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How contractors can combat theft


A construction worker in a yellow helmet standing in front of construction equipment

To do their job properly, all contractors need the proper tools, materials, and heavy equipment.

Unfortunately, these valuable resources are easy targets for thieves, as they’re generally easy to steal, easy to sell, and often have a low recovery rate even with assistance from police. Stolen tools and equipment are often shipped out of the province or country within hours of being stolen.

While the major consequence of equipment theft is the cost of replacement, there are other important consequences and risks to consider as well. For instance, delays in project completion due to the loss of equipment can ultimately increase project costs and trigger late fees.

So, what’s to be done? Not all thefts are preventable, but contractors can certainly make it more difficult for thieves to both access and sell what they steal.

Some quick examples:

  • Before leaving any site, contractors should ensure that their yard is well lit and that all tools, materials, and equipment are safely locked up. If any tools or equipment must be left on site, they should be secured with lock boxes with hardened locks (hidden shackles).
  • To complicate the sale of stolen goods, contractors can apply identifying marks on tools (e.g., numbers or a company logo) and track vehicles or equipment with a GPS device, transponder, or RFID (radio frequency identification technology).

The four pillars of equipment theft prevention

To adopt a more detailed and effective equipment theft prevention plan, contractors should include multiple levels of measures, summarized in these four pillars:

Pillar one: Basic security

  • Remove keys
  • Lock doors
  • Park in well-lit and highly visible areas
  • Secure equipment together

Pillar two: Hardware and technology

Install visible and audible warning devices that deter theft, such as:

  • Alarms
  • Steering column collars
  • Steering wheel and brake pedal locks
  • Additional locks to secure track, cylinder, fuel caps, wheel, hitch, pin, etc.
  • Wheel boots
  • Hydraulic lock-out systems
  • Tire deflators

Pillar three: Electronic assistance

Consider installing the following:

  • Immobilizer devices
  • Smart keys
  • Key transponder systems (e.g., Caterpillar MSS)
  • Cab control access codes
  • Fuse cut-offs
  • Kill switches
  • Starter and fuel disabler switches (to prevent hot-wiring and bypassing the ignition systems)

Pillar four: Digital and remote monitoring

  • Install equipment tracking technology
  • Employ geo-fencing systems
  • Install motion-sensing security lights
  • Ensure surveillance cameras cover the entire storage yard

The importance of good record keeping

On another front, contractors become more able to recognize and respond to theft when they maintain a current inventory and detailed record of all tools and equipment used on project sites.

Accurate record keeping is particularly helpful to contractors and their staff if they work on multiple job sites and use shared resources. (It also helps determine the need to purchase or replace anything.) If any tools or equipment are stolen, contractors can easily refer to their records to help assist in recovery.

Whether it’s a hard copy in a binder or use of an app or software, having an up-to-date inventory and detailed records of all tools and equipment used project sites is an instrumental element in management and theft recovery.

Here’s a list of what to include in detailed records:

  • Serial numbers and product identification
  • Make and model
  • Description
  • Year built
  • Invoice details, such as date purchased and value/cost
  • Markings, logos, and location of any details that help with identification
  • Service dates
  • Photos

Increasing the potential to recover stolen equipment

  1. Mark it

    Property marking systems such as MicroDOT let contractors mark tools and equipment for identification and authentication. MicroDOT chemically etches a tiny serial code the size of a pinhead on equipment and tools, invisible to the naked eye, and then stores the code in a secured database linked to your equipment. While this measure can’t prevent theft, it can help contractors prove ownership if tools and equipment happen to be recovered.
  2. Register it

    Registering all equipment with the manufacturer as soon as it is acquired can also be vital for after-the-fact reporting and recovery. If stolen equipment is brought into a dealer for repairs or extra parts and the manufacturer has your equipment in their stolen equipment database, your equipment may be recovered.
  3. Report it

    In addition to reporting thefts to the police, contractors should also consider reporting theft to both Crime Stoppers as well as the manufacturer of the stolen equipment. When equipment theft is reported to the police, they make a record of it in their system. If another contractor ultimately ends up purchasing stolen equipment and decides to conduct a background check, they’ll see that it’s been reported stolen in the police system.

Protect your business with TruShield Insurance

Even will all the proper precautions, theft can never be fully ruled out. That’s why TruShield offers tailored coverage to help protect the business that contractors have worked so hard to build.

Get a quote with TruShield today and enjoy a preferred commercial insurance rate as a valued Meridian Member.


About this blog
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