Reduce Theft and Recover Stolen Construction Equipment with GPS Tracking

In January 2021, thieves stole a New York City government vehicle, but less than 20 minutes later, an automated GPS system sent alerts to officials who could see exactly where the thieves were heading. “We all watched this vehicle as it escaped the City of New York,” said Keith Kerman, chief fleet officer at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.1 The truck sped along Interstate 95 through four states while Kerman’s team alerted local police along the way. The vehicle eventually stopped at a gas station where police were waiting for it.

This incident is not unique to New York City nor any of the hundreds of municipalities and companies across the country that face similar theft. In fact, according to a study by the National Equipment Register (NER)2, hundreds of millions of dollars of equipment is stolen each year and less than 25% of it is recovered. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB)3 estimates that loss value to be even higher—as much as $1 billion each year.

Sure, insurance will cover some of that cost, but when equipment is stolen, you face loss of productivity, the need to rent or purchase replacement equipment, plus time spent having to file police reports and insurance claims. It’s no surprise that newer equipment with fewer operating hours has a higher resale value for thieves. And states with higher volumes of construction, such as California and Texas, have the highest number of thefts.4

Why Heavy Equipment is Stolen

According to the NICB, the reward for the thief far outweighs the risk. Thieves are attracted to heavy equipment theft because5:

  • Registration of off-road vehicles and equipment is not required
  • Equipment is identified by product ID numbers, not the same standards used for cars and trucks
  • There is a high demand for heavy equipment
  • There is often little mechanical or site security
  • Heavy equipment is valuable and easy to resell
  • There is a low rate of recovery
  • Arrests may not be made if the item is recovered; if an arrest is made, it could be a light penalty or no conviction at all

Deterring Construction Equipment Theft

One key to preventing theft is improved security measures such as well-lit and fenced-in areas with security cameras, cab locks and immobilization devices to make moving equipment harder.

NER offers tips to recognize early warning signs of equipment theft and recommends you look for the following activity:6

  • Trucks parked at rental yards and dealerships that do not belong to the company
  • Vehicles parked in vacant lots and parking lots adjoining closed industry businesses, especially with occupants loitering in the area
  • Gates left open at industry facilities when it’s clear the facility is shut down
  • Late night or early morning activity inside a yard, construction site, farm or store
  • Overloaded trucks and improperly secured equipment transported

GPS Tracking Solutions

Often thefts aren’t noticed until someone needs to use certain equipment, and then it’s far too late. GPS tracking helps you deter theft and more quickly recover stolen assets by using real-time cloud-based software that tracks the location and movement of all your equipment.

Increasingly, construction companies rely on GPS tracking to:

  • Deter thefts and off-hours equipment use by interrupting power to the starter
  • Quickly locate stolen vehicles to limit potential damage
  • Get alerts when equipment or assets move without authorization

For example, GeoTab, a UScellular® partner, uses a telematics solution to provide customers with real-time tracking for each vehicle location. It also installs dash cameras in vehicles to record activity. In the New York City case, GeoTab was deployed on 23,000 vehicles for which the city says helped them recover 70 vehicles last year.

UScellular partners with the best in fleet management solutions, such as GeoTab and other GPS tracking companies, to provide construction companies with added security and theft reduction. Learn how we help companies like yours to reduce costs.

Contact our local sales representative to get started. Request a demo or call 866‑616‑5587.

Fleet Management for Construction: Stay Secure, on Time and On Budget

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