Vehicle and equipment theft is a costly issue to fleet managers, who not only lose valuable tools, but also pay the price of business downtime. Equipment theft, in particular, is becoming a growing concern for fleets, including those in the construction industry.
"The growing equipment theft problem can prove extremely costly to fleets. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), close to $1 billion a year is lost nationwide due to the theft of construction equipment and tools.
A 2008 Cygnus Business Media Research Study commissioned by LoJack and NICB showed that the majority of equipment owners (a full 71 percent) have experienced equipment theft," said Kathy Kelleher, VP of Fleet Management Solutions for LoJack Corp.
Unlike traditional auto theft, which is seen more in major cities around the country, construction theft is not confined to city streets and urban areas and is an industry that is much less monitored and protected. Suburban regions, where construction growth is prevalent and where construction vehicles are at work on active job sites, are considered high-risk areas for commercial theft.
Kelleher noted four main best practices fleet managers can implement to protect assets from theft. Putting these practices in place will help protect construction equipment and ultimately preserve company resources:
- Use common sense. Instruct drivers to never leave the keys in the car with the engine running or hide a spare key on the vehicle. Ensure they always close all windows and lock all doors, park in well-lit areas, and that valuables are not left in the vehicle in plain sight, or in the vehicle at all.
- Be aware of the vehicle's location, from parking lots to job sites, especially if equipment is being stored off-site overnight.
- Invest in layers of security measures. From security personnel to monitor vehicles left on job sites (such as with construction), to telematics solutions, to basic security camera surveillance, thieves are opportunistic and the more deterrents to theft the better.
- Report incidents of theft or fraud. In the event that a driver falls victim to theft, he or she should report the full details to the local authorities. This information could help any ongoing investigations and catch repeat offenders.
"Based on LoJack's 25-plus years of tracking and recovery of mobile assets, it has become clear that thieves target lucrative properties that can be stolen with as little difficulty as possible, and then turned around quickly for cash," Kelleher noted. "While police around the country have actively cracked down on auto theft, criminals who would have traditionally stolen automobiles have now discovered that equipment theft is also a lucrative business."