Construction Equipment: From Rented to Recovered

  • January 30, 2019
  • DJ Thompson

Construction equipment rentals are a vital part of the industry because it lets companies and contractors complete projects without the need for additional capital investments. The American Rental Association predicted in June that 2018 revenue would show a 6.1% increase and grow by 5.7% in 2019. With all the activity at rental lots and jobsites, there are, unfortunately, opportunities for thieves to do their work. The recovery stories for rental equipment below highlight some of the trends seen in the 2017 LoJack® Study on Construction Equipment Theft.

Nashville Recovery Star

The owners of a 2018 Melroe Skid Steer reported the theft from the storage lot of one of their rental locations. Nashville Police verified the theft and had the asset information entered into the state and federal crime computers that automatically activate the concealed LoJack® System concealed.

A short while later, officers from the Tennessee Highway Patrol Aviation (aerial) unit picked up the silent LoJack® System signal from the stolen skid steer with the LoJack Police Tracking Computers (PTCs) installed in patrol vehicles and aircraft.  Following the directional and audible cues from their PTCs, they tracked the vehicle northeast of Nashville. The Aerial unit directed ground units to the location where the skid steer was parked. The equipment was located on farm property and officers on the ground began an investigation. This information was turned over to Nashville Police and the skid steer was recovered and returned to the owners. Wheeled and tracked loaders were the top types of heavy construction equipment stolen in 2017 according to the LoJack® Study.

Failed Return Policy in Dallas

The rental company owners of a 2014 Bobcat T750 skid steer track loader went to pick it up at the customer’s jobsite after the completion of a contract.  When the owners arrived, they found the Bobcat missing. The installed GPS system had been removed. Therefore, they immediately contacted the Dallas Police Department to report their asset stolen. The officers verified and activated the LoJack® System concealed in the Bobcat.

A short while later, the officers picked up the silent LoJack® System signal from the stolen equipment and tracked it to an auto repair shop.  The owner of the repair shop told law enforcement that he was renting the space where the Bobcat was parked and that it was there when he showed up for work.  This is an ongoing investigation with the repair shop owner trying to come up with the space renter’s name. The Bobcat was recovered in good condition. Doosan Bobcats were the most stolen manufacturer, while Texas was the third most popular state for construction equipment theft according to the 2017 LoJack® Study.

Gone From Site in New Mexico

A customer informed their rental company that the 2015 John Deere 310K EP backhoe went missing from a jobsite near Interstate 25. The owners contacted the Albuquerque Police Department (PD) to report their machine stolen who then verified the theft and entered the machine information into the state and federal crime computers that automatically activated the LoJack® System concealed in the John Deere.

Approximately 9 minutes after the activation, flight officers with the Albuquerque PD Air-5 picked up the silent LoJack® System signal from the stolen equipment and tracked the signal to a nearby location.  This information was provided to officers on the ground. Members of the New Mexico Auto Theft Task Force (ATTF) heard the radio traffic and entered the area.  Surveillance began on the stolen John Deere.

The New Mexico ATTF obtained and executed the search warrant, but did not make contact with any subjects on the property. The asset was recovered and the rental company arrived on scene to take possession of the John Deere.  The ATTF are working leads in this caper in hopes of bringing charges to the offender(s). The second most popular manufacturer with thieves in 2017 was John Deere.

California Freeway to Fairway

A commercial construction company contacted the California Highway Patrol in Tracy to report that their rented 2014 John Deere T8210 Tractor had been stolen from a freeway construction site on I-205. Shortly after the LoJack® System activation, investigators assigned to the San Joaquin County Auto Theft Task Force (Delta RATT) who received an alert from the silent LoJack® System signal.  They then tracked the equipment with the LoJack Police Tracking Computers (PTC) installed in patrol vehicles and aircraft.  Following the directional and audible cues from the PTC, the John Deere was located parked and abandoned behind a closed golf course, approximately two and a half miles from where the tractor disappeared. The Delta RATT investigators recovered the stolen John Deere and towed/stored it for safekeeping until the rental company could retrieve it. The 2017 LoJack® Study showed that California was second for top states where equipment theft occurs.

Protecting Your Equipment

Construction equipment is a high profile target as these recovery stories illustrate. Therefore, it is good to have a multilayered approach to protecting these expensive assets. The first step can simply be chaining the equipment together, or even better, try to create a circle with the smaller pieces in the middle such as generators or light towers. More contained sites usually have fencing for security and safety so consider adding motion activated lighting or alarms to deter thieves. They want the easy targets unless their organized professionals.

Lastly, technology provides visibility on a virtual level. For example, telematics offers alert notifications when the ignition turns on outside of predefined work hours or leaves a specified geozone, such as a jobsite or rental lot. Since these solutions typically are not concealed, installing the LoJack® System helps law enforcement track down equipment because expert installers hide it. These steps help make your equipment less of a target and easier to track when subject to unauthorized use or theft.

Access the blog, “What Influences Heavy Construction Equipment Theft?” to learn more about what thieves target. For information on construction solutions, visit our page here.

Attending The Rental Show at the Anaheim Convention Center in February? Meet with LoJack and CalAmp in person at booth #4737 in Hall C (Construction).