Equipment Theft is Preventable

Date: June 2, 2020

Nancy Rigby, BITCO Home Office Technical Specialist, Risk Control

Steps to help keep your equipment safe

Theft of materials, tools or equipment from construction worksites accounts for 45 percent of property losses. That’s an average cost per loss of $9,400 for contractors.

Your equipment represents a significant financial investment. When equipment gets stolen, you not only face losing the costs of the unit, but also the resulting downtime, causing delays on projects and potential damage to your business’ reputation.

Taking proactive measures to prevent theft at your worksite is very important. In this article, we share several steps you can take to help prevent equipment theft.

Make theft prevention part of your business’ culture.

First, create a policy that outlines prevention steps and specific rules employees need to follow. As part of your regular business operations, you should keep a log that tracks the whereabouts of equipment keys. When not in use, all equipment keys should be secured in a safe or lockable area. Employees with access to keys should be noted in a separate and secure log.

Then, give employees time to adhere to those theft prevention responsibilities each day as part of their work hours. Additionally, ensure your employees feel at-liberty to make suggestions about worksite security and theft prevention.

In addition to making your employees allies in theft prevention, make background and reference checks part of your hiring process. You could also incentivize employees for theft prevention by offering rewards for private information on any known theft.

Enhance the security at your worksites and facilities.

Where is your equipment being kept? What is the security at that location?

No matter where your equipment is, it’s important to have measures in place to prevent outsiders from gaining unauthorized access. This could include hiring a guard service, installing video surveillance systems and/or maintaining a list of authorized employees entering and exiting the worksite. Additionally, noticeable visitor passes and logged entrances/exits should be enforced for on-site visitors.

Here are some other things you can consider for increased security in your yard:

  • Post warning signs around the perimeter.
  • Install chain-link fencing that allows visibility from the outside in the event that thieves get in. You could also use barbed wire at the top for additional security.
  • Create ditches that cannot be driven across or other barriers that prevent equipment from being driven or towed off a worksite.
  • Limit access points to the worksite.
  • Install lighting around the perimeter to deter thefts as most thefts occur at night.
  • Utilize padlocks that are case-hardened or laminated steel with case-hardened chains to lock perimeter gates.

Increase your equipment security.

Sometimes you can't control the worksite where your equipment is located, so securing the unit itself becomes your best option. When possible, site security should be combined with equipment security to prevent theft.

Another option is to anchor or immobilize equipment, except for authorized use. This could include anchoring a unit with a chain or cable that is brightly painted or lowering blades or buckets. Any equipment that is being stored at your company should be arranged in a way that a missing unit would quickly be noticed. Remember to regularly check on equipment.  

Carefully manage your inventory.

By keeping detailed records of your equipment, you can ensure your equipment is where it’s supposed to be, and when it needs to be there. This includes a detailed record of equipment location assignments, dates of delivery and return, and specific product information such as the manufacturer, model number and PIN or serial number.

In the case that theft does occur, these types of records greatly increase your chance of recovering the equipment. Consider duplicating your unit’s PIN or serial numbers in two places including one that is hidden so you can prove ownership. Take photos of your equipment from all four sides, and customize your equipment with unique colors or decals that only you can create.

You should also consider registering your equipment on a national database such as the National Equipment Register (NER) HELPtech (Heavy Equipment Loss Prevention Technology). With a national register, equipment owners, insurers and law enforcement can share information between segments and better prevent theft.

BITCO Insurance Companies works with NER to help recover stolen equipment utilizing the same database that law enforcement officials use nationwide. The NER database has detailed information and a unique search algorithm to find possible equipment matches in the event of theft. When you add your equipment, you also receive decals to help deter thieves, real-time alerts and discounted tracking devices.

If you have questions about how to manage your company’s equipment theft prevention, consult with your BITCO agent for more information.

Find an Agent

For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.

Let's Talk

Looking for a long-term partner that works hard for you and your business? Contact a local BITCO agent today.