The problem of equipment theft has increased steadily in recent years. However, an expanding array of services is available to help companies better manage and contain the risks associated with equipment theft.
Losses from equipment theft are growing, with an annual increase of up to 20 percent in the value of equipment stolen since 1996, according to ISO, a provider of data analysis and services related to property and liability risk. ISO reports that theft accounts for more than 50 percent of all heavy equipment-related losses, making it the most common cause of equipment loss. If you add indirect costs—such as rentals, downtime, wasted management time and project overrun penalties—the total loss figure from theft approximates $1 billion annually. Only about 10–15 percent of all stolen equipment is ever recovered.
One reason for the rise in equipment theft is that thieves find it lucrative, without posing too much risk. Heavy equipment is seldom protected with machine security devices, and construction sites are not secure.
Stolen equipment is also easy to sell, in part because of the lack of due diligence in the used-equipment market. Up until recently, no means existed to research the history of a piece of equipment sold in the used-equipment market. If stolen equipment can be sold with little risk to the thief, that means that it can be sold at, or close to, original market value.
Since 2001, National Equipment Register (NER) has worked with businesses to improve their equipment recovery rates by providing construction and farm equipment theft and ownership information to law enforcement. NER serves as a single point of contact for police to identify stolen equipment 24 hours a day.
Recently, NER has expanded its services to include the recording and monitoring of losses from equipment damage. NER will use its technology to identify fraudulent insurance claims for damaged equipment, as well as fraudulent theft reports.
NER has also expanded its services in two other areas:
• The recording of stolen construction product identification number (PIN) plates containing the machinery’s serial number. This allows NER to identify a stolen machine that has been given a new identity with a stolen PIN plate.
• The launching of a service enabling buyers to conduct due diligence through NER before purchasing used equipment.
Resources such as these can help businesses to deter prospective thieves, increase their chances of recovering stolen property, and overall better manage their risk of loss from heavy equipment theft.