LoJack Corp. of Westwood, Mass., recently announced the results of its fourth annual Construction Equipment Theft Report, which provides valuable information on the growing problem of equipment theft that costs construction companies up to $1 billion per year in lost assets, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The study, which analyzed LoJack stolen vehicle recovery, reports for the calendar year of 2004, more than $12,800,000 in stolen construction equipment assets were tracked and recovered by LoJack in 2004, up 42% from 2003.
Theft rings on the rise
This year’s study showed a dramatic rise in the number of professional theft rings and chop shops discovered by law enforcement through tracking stolen construction equipment protected with a LoJack system. In 2004, recoveries of LoJack-equipped construction equipment led police to locate 12 theft rings and seven chop shops, up from three theft rings and two chop shops in 2003.
“Professional thieves view construction theft as a highly lucrative business opportunity and we see this problem increasing year after year,” said Richard T. Riley, president and COO of LoJack Corp.
“As lucrative as theft is for the thieves, it is doubly costly for the victims. Construction companies not only have to pay to replace their equipment, they also lose valuable revenue because of business downtime. Installing a LoJack-type system is a precaution that companies can take to effectively protect their business from the costly problem of theft.”
Theft is on the rise in the construction industry for a number of reasons:
A title and registration for equipment is not mandated, making it harder for equipment to be traced back to owners and, hence, easier for thieves to get away with the crime;
Crime of this nature is driven by supply and demand and construction equipment is in high demand, making this a lucrative business opportunity for thieves;
Many construction sites have inadequate security and sites are often in unsecured, remote locations;
Equipment often have “open” cabs, making it easy for thieves to get in and do their handy work; and
Thieves can often access universal keys that can start many pieces of equipment and/vehicles.
Continuing trends: popular equipment are still popular theft targets
As in the prior y ear, the study found that the newer equipment on the job site are most common theft targets because of higher resale value. The types of equipment most frequently stolen are (in order): loaders, skid steers, generators, air compressors, dump trucks, welders and untethered trailers, light utility work trucks and forklifts. These equipment types represent 81% of all construction equipment stolen and recovered was five years old or less.
The report found that rates of construction equipment theft and recovery were again highest in those states where rapid growth or rebuilding had fueled more construction projects. Additionally, states with warmer weather have more construction year-round, translating into more opportunities for thieves. California was the most active area with 25% of the total recoveries; Florida was next at 19%, followed by Texas at 16%.
Fast recovery remains key
The value of rapid recovery of stolen construction equipment was again revealed in the report. Typically, the longer a piece of equipment is missing, the greater the likelihood it will not be found or, if it is found, it will be significantly damaged. A full 78% of the LoJack-equipped construction equipment reported stolen in 2004 was recovered by law enforcement in less than 24 hours, with 19% recovered in less than one hour. The majority of the equipment recovered with LoJack was undamaged.
How LoJack works
The LoJack System is a time-tested, radio frequency-based stolen vehicle recovery system. Certified technicians install the LoJack system covertly in one of many possible locations on an individual piece of equipment. If a piece of equipment installed with LoJack is stolen, the owner files a stolen vehicle report with the police to automatically begin the activation process. A silent radio signal is sent directly to the equipment to activate the hidden LoJack transponder. The silent radio frequency signal is picked up by LoJack Police Tracking Computers that are installed in law enforcement vehicles (police cruisers and aviation units), enabling them to quickly track and recover the stolen vehicle. The signals pinpoint the location and lead police to a rapid recovery.
About the study
The 2004 LoJack Construction Equipment Theft Report is based on state and theft statistics and equipment recoveries documented by LoJack in 21 states from January to December 2004. LoJack intends to track, analyze and publish construction equipment theft and recovery data each year to provide statistics and trends for the construction industry.