Heavy Equipment Theft – A New Lucrative Market in the World of Criminals
The captivity of a man from Alberta Canada after police officers seized stolen heavy equipment worth $900,000 is a clear proof that the criminal world has opened a new lucrative market know as equipment theft.
Lojack company, whose business includes tracking of heavy construction equipment, in its Construction Equipment Theft Study, discovered that the most popular types of equipment for thieves are: backhoe loaders / skip loaders / wheel loaders, skid steers, generators / air compressors / welders, light utility / work trucks, forklifts and scissor lifts, and dump trucks. The hot items for thieves are those equipment that are in demand and are easy to re-sell, easy to remove from job sites, smaller and more versatile, and the towables or the “easy pickin’s”. And not surprisingly, the newer models of these equipment are often stolen than the older ones.
Heavy equipment, most commonly, heavy haul equipment, are typically stolen from job sites. Equipment yards and storage facilities are also being targeted. And the vast majority of equipment thieves successfully operate at night and most likely on weekends.
Thieves were discovered to be either re-selling these equipment to contractors who appear not to suspect that they are being sold stolen tools, or disassembling the equipment and sell the pieces by parts. Once they have successfully stolen the equipment, they then take them to a remote location for a “cooling off” period or are hidden in a garage or warehouse. Some equipment are taken to another job site, while some are kept in a theft ring where the PINs are removed and readied for resale.
Just recently, a man named Jose Fernando Barbosa from Alberta, Canada was sentenced with a two-year imprisonment after pleaded guilty in provincial court for stealing a total of $900,000 worth of heavy equipment. Police were alerted of Barbosa’s acts after an owner of a concrete company located their stolen skid steer (using GPS locator) to a fenced compound near 174 Street and 105 Avenue in 2010. The recovery of the said equipment paved the way for the discovery of the many other stolen items in the said location and in other areas.
So how can companies and businesses protect their equipment from equipment theft?
It is a good practice to have detailed records of the equipment. Each equipment should be labeled with unique identifying numbers such as Product Identification Number (PIN), Owner Applied Number (OAN), or mark numbers in multiple locations. An accurate inventory of records would be a big help to track all equipment with the following details: record serial numbers of each major component part, record manufacturer, model number, year, PIN, and purchase date. And most importantly, heavy equipment owners must invest on the physical security of their storage facilities. Having a fence in or park equipment together will deter access to thieves. Communicating with law enforcement and requesting more frequent patrols from them would make it harder for intruders to conduct their “businesses”. Other safety measures also include use of immobilization devices like wheel locks, fuel shut-offs, or ignition locks, installing battery-disconnect switches, installing equipment tracking devices for equipment recovery or asset management, and registering the equipment with a national database.
ENTREC has strategically placed operational hubs that provide services throughout western Canada and the Northwest Territories. Their vision for the company is to be the premier transportation, crane services and rigging service provider for their customers.
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