The theft of construction equipment continues to increase, making its protection a growing priority for fleet owners. The frequency of these thefts combined with the low probability of recovery makes this problem a big one for construction companies.
A 2012 study conducted by the National Equipment Register (NER) showed that the cost of equipment theft was about $400 million per year in the United States. The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) receives 600 to 1,200 theft reports each year for construction equipment, typically peaking in late spring to early summer. This equipment is usually expensive, with an average cost of $17,400. The NER/NCIC report also states that losses of construction equipment are twice as likely to be due to theft as they are to natural disaster.
In addition to the upfront cost of these losses, construction companies also lose revenue due to the downtime needed to replace equipment. Furthermore, high loss rates can make it more difficult to receive funding.
But, there are several ways to protect these valuable assets. A few of them we will detail here. The methods of protecting tools and heavy equipment include the following:
- Portable storage containers
- Security guards
Portable Storage Containers
All construction projects require tools, which many companies keep on site. Large projects also use heavy equipment such as excavators, forklifts, haulers, and scrapers. Moving heavy equipment from a central storage facility to the job site each day is often uneconomical due to the time it requires. Storing this equipment in a portable container allows construction companies to keep work materials at the job site overnight.
The time savings is the most important benefit of on-site storage since it allows work to begin as soon as workers arrive at the job site. In addition, it saves the fuel and mileage costs of moving equipment. Portable storage containers also eliminate the risk of leaving essential equipment at the main storage facility, resulting in a work stoppage. Another benefit of on-site storage is that it reduces the loading and unloading of heavy equipment, which carries an increased risk of injury.
Storage containers are also useful for storing tools and work materials such as cement, lumber, steel beams, glass, drywall, and paint. Many of these items have a high resale value, making them valuable to thieves.
Shelter from the Storm
Furthermore, many construction materials are sensitive to the effects of weather such as rain, snow and temperature extremes. Securing all equipment in one place also maximizes workflow on the construction site. Furthermore, many storage containers can be equipped with interior features such as cabinets, shelves and tool racks, which help keep items organized.
Overnight security guards may also be a worthwhile investment for protecting equipment. The cost of these guards depends primarily on the degree of training they have. Some construction companies maintain their own security personnel, who often have minimal training and must learn on the job. Security guards from private companies usually have much more training for emergency situations and often have a license to carry weapons. These guards often have a police or military background, so their cost is correspondingly greater.
Another consideration for hiring security guards is that they need to work at night, which limits the number of people willing to take these jobs. They may also require specialized training to monitor a site for theft and other illegal activity at night. Additional factors include the need to call for emergency backup in the event of a major break. Security guards may also require a commercial driver’s license, depending on the scope of the job.
Various methods also exist for making it more difficult to steal individual pieces of equipment. These include devices such as battery switches, ignition locks and wheel locks that physically hinder the unauthorized operation of a vehicle. Hidden deactivation devices can also shut off machinery when the operator fails to perform certain procedures. Another effective strategy is to remove fuses and circuit breakers on equipment that won’t be used for a prolonged period. These devices can prevent many thefts, although some thieves are highly skilled at circumventing them.
GPS tracking systems are also becoming increasingly popular. Though they don't prevent the actual theft, they do allow police to pinpoint a vehicle’s location with a high degree of accuracy. They can also provide additional information useful for construction companies such as a vehicle’s fuel usage, idle time and movements.
Construction equipment doesn’t require titles or registration so it can be tempting to forgo the placement of identifying labels on machinery. However, labeling equipment makes it much more likely that police will be able to recover it in the event of a theft. The lack of such information is the primary reason that the recovery rates on stolen equipment are so low. Construction companies should also keep all records of this information off-site.
Companies should engrave or stamp these identifiers instead of simply painting them on, which is easy for thieves to cover up. The label may consist of the company’s name or a symbol such as a logo. These identifiers should be applied to any tools or heavy equipment with a black market value.
PINs and serial numbers are often nonexistent or undocumented for most types of construction equipment. In these cases, this information may actually do little to identify the property. Equipment owners, therefore, need to familiarize themselves with the details of their equipment, including make, model, PIN and serial number. The purchase date can also help identify stolen equipment. Photographs are another helpful identification tool for construction equipment.
Construction companies have increasing motivation to protect their property, including tools, heavy equipment, and construction materials. The cost of transporting equipment to the work site each day makes on-site storage a requirement for many projects. Mobile storage containers are available in a variety of sizes and often have customizable interiors to meet a company’s particular needs. Their portability also means that companies can move them to the next site when a project is complete. Additional methods for protecting tools and heavy equipment include security guards, anti-theft devices and improved record keeping.
SiteBox Storage is ready to help protect your tools and heavy equipment by providing high quality, portable storage solutions. If you're ready to give mobile storage containers a try, contact us today.