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“We’ve really just gained a ton of peace of mind, just knowing where the equipment is. Even if it doesn’t move –we know it’s there”

Trenton, Safety Manager & Field Accountant

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How Do I Prevent Theft of Equipment?

Let’s start with the obvious question: is equipment theft really a problem?

Yes, absolutely. When you rely on assets and equipment as your main revenue generator, theft of those assets is a nightmare. Recent studies* by the NICB have estimated construction equipment theft annual costs to be between $300 million and $1 billion USD. That is a staggering number. What’s more, is that the same studies have shown that less than 25% of that stolen equipment is recovered. Not to mention the loss of revenue caused when your business is renting out the equipment that is being targeted.

What are some strategies to help reduce the risk of equipment theft?

Inventory control 

At the very least, this is the first step of becoming aware of theft incidents. This means knowing exactly what the current inventory of your rental equipment is, so you can stay on top of instances of it going missing. 

If you do not have an accurate count of what you have on hand, it may expose you to more internal incidents. For example, employees may see a messy, non-up-to-date inventory as a chance to use them outside of normal bounds or take them altogether.

Keeping a strong inventory list with a system requiring equipment to go through a series of checks when leaving your facility can help mitigate this. This can be done manually with a simple written ledger or digitally with the inventory system. GPS devices are also very useful in inventory management, as it allows you to know the current location of the logged inventory.

Physical security 

Another basic method to help mitigate theft issues is implementing some form of physical control. This can be hiring security staff for a storage site, which is very valuable but can be expensive. Alternatively, many folks rely on a security system of some sort specifically for the site – for example, cameras, fencing, or an alarm system.

The obvious issue with physical security is that you have assets all over the map in the rental business, including locations you do not own and cannot secure. However, physical security is still vital at your headquarters and at places where you can provide it. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

Physical security also has a strong deterrent component to it. There is a reason why retail locations often let customers see the security cameras in place and the security staff on-site. The presence of these will prevent some theft, and it won’t stop everyone, but it will prevent some. Prevention, at any scale, is a win.

GPS tracking 

This one is a simple benefit of a GPS tracking system. With an equipment tracking device installed on assets that may be vulnerable to theft, you can know immediately when something is stolen and have a much better chance to recover one of the assets after it has been stolen. Let’s dig into those two situations.

Early warning is a key piece of the puzzle when trying to mitigate or prevent theft. With GPS, you can typically create a boundary around any location where equipment may be. Then, when that equipment leaves that area, you are immediately notified. This can be useful daily to help with the inventory control mentioned earlier. More importantly, it is perfect for monitoring assets you cannot always be around. Imagine it is 3 am, and a bobcat is taken from a renter’s worksite. Without GPS, you may find out sometime around 7-9 am, depending on when the renter’s team starts the day. With GPS, you know, at 3 am. That time difference leads to more recovered assets, less downtime, and less lost revenue.

Especially when you pair that time difference with accurate, real-time location. Seeing where a stolen asset travels allows you to give law enforcement accurate information about the equipment. This empowers them to recover it quickly, minimizing risk to them and downtime for you.

Learn how rental companies can benefit from GPS tracking. 

Learn how construction companies can gain peace of mind from GPS tracking. 

Prevent theft of your equipment with the right system

A combination of all three of these is the best way to try and insulate yourself from theft. Physical security can use accurate inventory reports to know what should be where, and GPS will notify them when something goes missing to aid recovery. 

Theft can be intimidating, but there are tools and strategies to help mitigate theft. Make sure you stay ahead and put the right systems in place. 

Do you need to track the equipment you rent out? Learn more here.

Should you hardwire GPS trackers on your equipment? Learn more here.

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