6 Ways to Prevent Heavy Equipment Theft

6 Ways to Prevent Heavy Equipment Theft
6 Ways to Prevent Heavy Equipment Theft
Author: Small Business Expert | February 2, 2023 | Topic: Used Equipment

6 Ways to Prevent Heavy Equipment Theft

As a machinery owner, it is important to learn how to prevent construction equipment theft. Familiarizing yourself with what criminals are looking for can help you understand what preventive measures can deter people from trespassing in the first place. Learn more about the ways you can protect your heavy equipment against thieves.

6 Tips to Prevent Heavy Equipment Theft

Your tools and machines are major investments — protecting them from people who may damage or steal them is essential for any owner. Consider following these tips for heavy equipment theft prevention:


1. Understand Your Security Risks

The first tip is to evaluate your security risks. Take a trip around your job site and review the areas and machines that may be potential targets. Keep in mind that items like loaders and tractors are among the most common types of equipment thieves take.

It can be helpful to put yourself in the mind of a potential thief and consider where there are openings in your fencing and other factors like shift changes that could make stealing tools and equipment easier. This perspective will help you create an effective plan to secure your job site.


2. Maintain Strict Employee Protocols

Protecting your equipment starts with your team. Make sure you complete thorough background checks on all your employees. This measure is essential because dishonest employees can assist criminals and help them access your tools. Have your team follow strict protocols when entering and exiting the work site. Keep an accurate record of all the authorized individuals you allow to access your equipment and spaces.

Make sure your team is familiar with all security procedures, as well. Have them do daily tasks like always removing the keys from the equipment and utilizing lockout devices at the end of the day.


3. Utilize GPS Technology

Installing tracking technology is another way you can secure your heavy equipment and protect it from thieves. While the technology will not bar people from taking the equipment, it will give you an additional layer of security. You can watch over the GPS and make sure everything is where it is supposed to be. The sooner you see suspicious activity, the greater the chance you may have to recover it.


4. Keep Your Job Sites Well-Lit

A simple way to boost your equipment theft prevention efforts is by keeping your job sites well-lit at all times. Installing lighting can deter thieves from snooping around your equipment and it can illuminate anyone who is attempting to steal.

If you do not have the resources for constant lighting, consider adding motion sensor options. When lights turn on due to movement on your site, it could scare off potential criminals. Lighting can also enhance footage from your security cameras and make it easier to identify suspects if your equipment does go missing.


5. Use Fencing and Physical Barriers

Utilizing secure fencing around the perimeter of your job site is one of the most effective ways to prevent equipment theft. Be sure that any physical barriers are set up properly and are not easy for criminals to move out of the way.

Inspect your fencing and add locks where you can to reinforce it further. When the workday is over, ensure to close and lock your gates, as well. You could also consider adding barbed wire to your fence for additional protection against unwanted trespassers.


6. Install Alarms and Security Cameras

Another way to fight heavy equipment theft is by setting up alarms and camera systems. In addition to capturing any activity on your job site, these additions can help deter criminals from accessing your equipment in the first place by alerting them there is surveillance in action. It can be beneficial to set up your alarm systems to contact the police automatically if someone sets it off.

Equipment Theft Trends in the United States

Heavy equipment theft stats prove that criminals are looking to steal more than ever. Since the theft rate has been on the rise since 2018 and continues to increase, it is important to understand the security threats your job sites face. Now, let's get into some of the trends happening in the United States today.

According to the National Equipment Register (NER), the top five states for targeted equipment theft in 2021 were:

  • Texas
  • Tennessee
  • California
  • Florida
  • Missouri

The NER also shares that the top targeted locations are dealerships and work sites. Mowers and skid steers were the top two targeted equipment types out of 219 theft incidents reported in 2021. Equipment theft costs the construction industry an average of $1 billion every year.

What to Do if Your Equipment Is Stolen

Only about 25% of stolen equipment is ever recovered, so it is imperative you take prompt action if you suspect someone stole your property.

What to Do if Your Equipment Is Stolen


When dealing with stolen construction equipment, there are some steps to take right away to increase your chances of recovering it. We suggest doing the following if your heavy equipment goes missing:


Access Your Records

If you discover a piece of your equipment is missing, you should promptly access anything that could give you more insight. Check your security camera footage for potential evidence. Pull up records about the equipment at your work site and validate what specific items are missing.

These records will help you create an accurate report for the authorities and insurance purposes. Be sure to keep a note of the following for every piece of equipment:

  • Manufacturer
  • Model
  • Year
  • Serial numbers or product identification numbers (PINs)
  • List of key holders
  • Photos


Alert the Authorities

Once you know which piece or pieces of equipment are missing, contact the authorities right away. Give them as much information about your tools and job site as possible. Forward any potential evidence like security camera footage or photos of the area.

Having your records on hand will make this process more straightforward. The quicker you alert law enforcement, the sooner they can address the situation and hopefully recover your equipment.


Report Your Missing Equipment

Finally, you should always report your missing equipment to the National Equipment Register. Doing so will allow the NER to team up with the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and get the word out about your stolen equipment to local law enforcement officials. This enhances the chances of getting your items back.

You should also report your missing equipment to your insurance provider. It is best to file a claim as soon as possible.

Buy Used Equipment From Your Local Cat® Dealer

Now that you understand how to prevent heavy equipment theft, you can better protect your investments and have greater peace of mind.

If you are looking for used equipment to enhance your fleet, your local Cat® dealer can help you find the right fit for your application and budget. Explore our dealers' selections of available used equipment or find a Cat dealer near you today!

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