Every month, nearly 1,000 pieces of commercial equipment are reported stolen to the National Crime Information Center. Though not every theft can be prevented, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of losing valuable assets.

Worksite and equipment security
Some worksite variables may be out of your control, but installing simple perimeter fencing with limited access points, posting “no trespassing” signs and illuminating the area can help deter theft. One of the best theft prevention measures is securing individual pieces of equipment using high-security locks, chains and/or cables, locking fuel caps and mechanical tire locking devices.

Equipment identification
Unique product identifiers can deter thieves and, in case of theft, help law enforcement recover stolen assets. Vail Products, the leading manufacturer of aftermarket construction equipment attachments, understands the importance of your equipment’s safety. “First and foremost, we try to put in whatever safeguards we can with an eye toward potential theft,” says Scott Pagenkopf, Vail Products marketing director. “Our No. 1 priority is to be able to track the product no matter where it ends up on the globe.”

Vail Products does this by using identifiers such as etched-in serial numbers, part identifiers and asset tags. “We also ask that our vendors do the same,” Pagenkopf says. “There’s never a mystery should anything happen to a piece of equipment. This not only helps law enforcement, but also our customers and ourselves.”

Pagenkopf says, though, using equipment identifiers isn’t enough. “The key is to record the serial numbers and other unique identifiers on each piece of equipment,” he says. Know your inventory and record the manufacturer, model number, year, PIN and purchase date, along with serial numbers for all component parts.

In 2013, only 19 percent of the heavy equipment stolen was recovered. That compares with a 57 percent recovery rate for all other motor vehicles. Part of the reason for this variation is the recording of equipment identifiers.

Equipment registry
In addition to keeping your own records, you can keep track of equipment through the National Equipment Register, which offers a voluntary registry service that consists of entering a machine’s serial number, engine number, transmission number and other selected identification numbers into database that is available to law enforcement. All registered vehicles are marked with NER decals, which act as a theft deterrent and increase the likelihood of detection when a thief moves, stores or sells the equipment.

Good to review
Never blow off an alarm signal as a false alarm. Sometimes thieves target warehouses and trip facility alarm systems multiple times before breaking in to give law enforcement and facility managers the impression that the alarm system is malfunctioning. Remove keys from all facility equipment, especially motorized pallet jacks and forklifts. Carefully screen employees. Many cases of theft are inside jobs.

Theft prevention and recovery is not an exact science, but making it a priority can go a long way to help keep your assets — and your business — safe.

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