LoJack Releases Annual Construction Equipment Theft Study

LoJack Corporation announced the results of its 12th annual Construction Equipment Theft Study, providing information on the ongoing issue of equipment theft with annual estimates of the cost of equipment theft varying between $300 million to $1 billion annually.  

According to the report, LoJack-equipped construction assets worth approximately $8.8 million were recovered in 2011.  A total of 40 people were arrested by the police as a result of recoveries involving these assets. Since entering the construction market in 2000, the LoJack System has helped law enforcement recover LoJack-equipped stolen construction assets worth more than $130.5 million and bust nearly 80 chop shops and theft rings.

Here are the top-line results:

  • Most Frequently Stolen: Light Work Trucks, Trailers
  • State with Highest Theft Rate: California
  • Most Stolen Brand of Equipment: Ford

Vulnerable sites fuel theft

As has been the case in previous years, professional thieves can be particularly successful with construction equipment theft in part because it is an easy crime to perpetrate.  Most job sites have poor security; open cabs are easy to access; one key can fit all pieces of equipment; and there is a general lack of product identification numbers/records in the industry.

Popular equipment stolen most

The most stolen equipment list has a very similar profile to last year’s report and reflects an uptick in construction jobs, as these types of equipment are most often found on job sites. The types of equipment most frequently stolen are (in order):

2011 Ranking 2010 Ranking
Light Utility/Work Trucks and Trailers (36%)  1
Backhoe Loaders/Skip Loaders/Wheel Loaders/Track Loaders (26%)  3
Skid Steers (14%)                       2
Generators/Air Compressors/Welders (11%)   4
Others                         5

The top four equipment types represented 87 percent of all construction equipment recoveries documented by LoJack in 2011.  Fifty-eight percent of the equipment stolen and recovered was five years old or less and 75 percent was recovered in 24 hours or less after being reported to the police.  Seven percent of the equipment was recovered in less than one hour.

States with the highest theft rates

Based on LoJack’s recovery data, the list below reflects the top states with the highest occurrence of equipment theft.  These states either have many active construction projects and/or an international border or access to major shipping ports, making them primary theft areas. 

2011  Ranking   vs.  2010 Ranking
1 California   1
2 Texas   2
3 Florida   3
4 Georgia   5
5 Arizona   4
6 New York   6
7 North Carolina   9
8 New Jersey   8
9 Maryland and Washington   7 Maryland;
N/A Washington
10 Nevada   N/A

Top brands in demand

Equipment from 57 different manufacturers was stolen and recovered with the help of the LoJack Stolen Vehicle Recovery System.  A full 63 percent of the thefts in 2011 were from the following top manufacturers:

1.     Ford – 22%

2.     John Deere – 11%

3.     Caterpillar– 10%

4.     Bobcat – 9%

5.     Case – 8%

6.     Ingersoll-Rand – 3%

LoJack’s Guide to Theft Protection

Because jobsites are often left unsecured at night or over the weekend, they become easy targets especially for professional thieves. Below is LoJack’s advice on how to protect equipment and businesses from the costly problem of theft:

  • Keep Good Records: Since titles and registration of equipment is not mandated, be sure to label all equipment with unique product identification or owner applied numbers.  Consider marking the equipment in multiple places with the numbers.   Also be certain to record the manufacturer, model number, year, PIN and purchase date along with serial numbers for all component parts to be able to identify equipment in the event of theft.
  • Secure Your Site: If at all possible, fence in the jobsite and install security cameras and motion sensors.  Park the equipment close together, in a circle with smaller pieces in the center, if possible.  And communicate with law enforcement to request frequent patrols, especially if the jobsite is located in a known high-theft area.
  • Use Theft Deterrents and Proven Recovery Systems: Immobilization devices such as wheel locks, fuel shut-offs and ignition locks are possible deterrents, as are battery-disconnect switches.  But unfortunately, if professional thieves target specific equipment, they can generally get around deterrents.  A proven tracking/recovery system that offers time-tested tracking technology and is integrated with police so that recovery is in the hands of law enforcement is the best possible way to protect your equipment.