What Influences Heavy Construction Equipment Theft?

  • December 12, 2018
  • DJ Thompson

We wanted to review some of the data from the 2017 LoJack® Corporation Study on Construction Equipment Theft. It details key information on stolen construction equipment. This year’s report comes in the form of a downloadable infographic.

2017 Study Overview: Construction Equipment Theft1

LoJack tracks theft reports in LoJack coverage areas where equipment theft is reported and construction equipment outfitted with the LoJack® System was recovered during the 12-month period from January through December 2017.

The LoJack data was collected over the past 17 years with 2017 statistics specifically being documented in this study. It illustrates a number of trends that may be useful to law enforcement, equipment owners and equipment renters in the ongoing fight against commercial theft. However, LoJack realizes that the scope of the company’s research is only a snapshot and cannot paint a complete picture of construction theft in the United States. Here are a few key insights from the report:

Loaders Remain Top Equipment Stolen

The type or class of heavy construction equipment stolen remained loaders (26%)1 – backhoes, skid steers, tracked and wheeled. Not far behind are towables (20%)1 comprising of air compressors, chippers, generators, light towers and welders predominantly. While excavators ranked third on the list, the newly included category of trailers and RVs was not far behind. As you can read in the story below, these assets tend to be stolen together.

For example, the owners of a 2010 Bobcat S160 contacted the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to report that their vehicle had been stolen from a job site. It was left behind a gate for the night and was found missing the next morning. The department verified the theft and entered the vehicle information into the state and federal crime computers, which automatically activated the LoJack® System concealed in the Bobcat.

Several days later, troopers from Arizona DPS picked up the silent LoJack signal from the stolen Bobcat with the LoJack Police Tracking Computers (PTC) that are installed in patrol vehicles and aircraft. They tracked the vehicle to a desert area property in Dolan Springs, Arizona where they got a visual confirmation that it was present. A search warrant was drawn up for the address and served.

The Bobcat was located along with numerous parts from many other vehicles, some of which were identifiable as being from stolen cars. There was also one still assembled vehicle that was present was stolen. On the property was a trailer with a variety of digging attachments for the Bobcat that was stolen from a rental business in Tennessee. The Bobcat was recovered and returned to the owners. All of the other stolen parts were transported and impounded as evidence for a case being submitted to the prosecutors for the person who occupied the property where the search warrant was served.

New Top State for Theft

Florida barely beat out California (25.7%)1 for the top state for theft (25.9%)1. Texas held its third place position. These three states offer access to ports for shipping equipment or their parts overseas, and California and Texas offer close proximity to the border. Georgia was the 4th top state for theft. While Arizona and North Carolina tied in the fifth position to round out the top five popular states in our 2017 study.

Variety Seen in Top Months Preferred By Thieves

The top five months for thefts were:

  1. January (10.6%)
  2. April/October (9.3%, tied)
  3. March (9.1%)
  4. August (8.6%)

The reason for more activity during the spring and summer could be that this is also the height of construction season, especially in the northern climates. January typically sees fewer construction projects so thieves might target the furloughed equipment when less monitoring is expected.

  • You can download the 2017 Construction Theft Recovery Report infographic here.

Below are two additional recovery stories from law enforcement show these investigations are often bigger than just the individual stolen equipment.

Puget Sound Recoveries

Often the investigation into a construction equipment theft uncovers additional crimes such as stolen vehicles or chop shops. In Seattle, the owner of a white 2011 Melroe Bobcat T-190 came home from work to find his Bobcat and trailer had been stolen from the driveway. After the LoJack® System concealed in the Bobcat activated, members of the Puget Sound Auto Theft Task Force were notified and two detectives picked up the silent LoJack® signal. They were able to navigate and isolate the signal to a square block in a wooded residential area in unincorporated Auburn, WA. The suspect property was completely fenced with a locked gate and “beware of dog” signs.

Shortly thereafter, a Washington State Patrol Aviation unit also received the silent signal from the Bobcat with the LoJack Police Tracking Computer (PTC) installed in patrol vehicles and aircraft. The pilot receiving the signal could see a white Bobcat with “T-190” on the side amongst multiple other vehicles on the suspect property.

Utilizing this information, detectives applied for and were granted a search warrant to enter the property and recover the stolen Bobcat. After entering, detectives confirmed it was on the property. In addition, detectives also recovered eleven (11) stolen vehicles with a total value of over $90,000. Criminal charges are pending for the suspect in this case.

Georgia-Tennessee Line Recoveries

The owner of a 2016 Takeuchi Skid Steer contacted the Gwinnett County Police Department in Lawrenceville, Georgia to report that the equipment had been stolen from a job site sometime over a 4-day period. The department verified the theft and entered the equipment information into the state and federal crime computers, which automatically activated the LoJack System concealed in the Takeuchi.

After the skid steer was entered into the national crime computer database, a trooper with the Tennessee Highway Patrol Aviation Unit picked up the silent LoJack signal with the LoJack Police Tracking Computers (PTC) that are installed in patrol vehicles and aircraft and tracked the equipment to a residence located in a rural area of White County, Tennessee. The trooper observed the Takeuchi skid steer behind a metal building and directed ground units from the Tennessee Highway Patrol Criminal Investigation Unit and the Tennessee Department of Revenue Anti-Theft Unit to the residence.

The investigators on the ground made contact with the property owner who gave consent to search the property. The property owner told the Investigators that he purchased the Takeuchi from an individual in Atlanta, Georgia. Upon searching the property and examining the other vehicles and trailers, it was determined that the below listed vehicles were also stolen from various jurisdictions from Georgia and Tennessee.

  • 2005 Chevrolet Silverado Pick-Up Truck
  • 2000 Chevrolet Silverado Pick-Up Truck
  • 2006 Ford F-350 Pick-Up Truck
  • 2014 Yamaha YEM700 ATV
  • 2003 Yamaha Grizzly 660 ATV
  • 1996 Pace enclosed trailer

All of the stolen vehicles and equipment were recovered and returned to the owners. The case is still an ongoing investigation; however, the property owner who was in possession of all the stolen vehicles could be facing charges of Possession of Stolen Property as well as Title Fraud depending on the outcome of the investigation.

Finally, a big thank you to law enforcement for their continued hard work and dedication to making our communities safer. We are proud to work with over 1,900 agencies across the country to help reduce the impact of construction and commercial theft in the community, and we look forward to supporting their efforts in 2019 and beyond.

For more information on the LoJack® Stolen Asset Recovery solution, please visit our solution page here.


1. Statistics from the 2017 LoJack Corporation Study on Construction Equipment Theft represents an analysis of twelve months of construction equipment recovery data by LoJack Corporation. The data was gathered from January through December 2017 and based on information from LoJack tracked theft reports in LoJack coverage areas (see www.lojack.com/coverage) where equipment theft was reported and where construction equipment outfitted with a LoJack® System helped police to recover the stolen assets.