Stolen Construction Equipment: Is Your Skid Steer Loader At Risk?

  • April 1, 2019
  • DJ Thompson

For commercial equipment, skid steer loaders are the top type or class of heavy construction equipment stolen according to our 2017 LoJack Study on Construction Equipment Theft. These machines are popular with buyers because of their versatility. Compact Equipment notes there is an industry-wide strategy “of investing in one skid steer loader and mating it with select attachments.” Because of this adaptability, the loaders become a target for thieves.

Let’s review a few recovery stories, including one that secured an award nomination for one North Carolina law enforcement (LE) official. Each incident shows how the LoJack® System is important in helping to solve a case.

Houston, We Have a Problem

A 2012 Caterpillar skid steer was taken overnight from a jobsite. The owners reported the incident. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office verified the theft and entered the vehicle information into the state and federal crime computers that automatically activated the LoJack® System concealed in the skid steer. A short while later officers from the Houston Police Department picked up the silent LoJack unit signal from the stolen skid steer with the LoJack Police Tracking Computers (PTC) that are installed in patrol vehicles and aircraft.

Following the directional and audible cues from the PTC, the officers tracked the equipment to a storage facility. While the officers were waiting to tow the skid steer, the renter of the storage space showed up and was arrested.  He claimed that he bought the skid steer for $5,000.00, but couldn’t produce a receipt. The Caterpillar was worth $65,000 and returned in good condition.

A Midnight Train Load of Recoveries in Georgia

The owner of a 2012 Melroe Skid Steer reported its theft with a trailer to Athens Clarke County Police. After the automatic activation of the silent LoJack® System concealed in the skid steer, a Georgia State Patrol Trooper picked up the silent LoJack unit signal with the PTC and tracked the machine to Greene County. The skid steer was located at a residence off the main roadway. After requesting assistance from the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, the team began checking the property. In addition to the recently reported equipment, officers found:

  • An industrial trailer stolen from Bostwick, Georgia two weeks earlier
  • An unidentified Ford F-250 that no one on the property could produce ownership papers for and the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) displayed had no history for several years
  • A Ford F-150 was located with a changed VIN and identification showed that it was reported stolen out of Greensboro, Georgia in September 2013
  • A Ford Explorer Sport Trac stolen in Newton County in March 2009
  • A Polaris Ranger 700 stolen from Walton County in July 2015

The property owner arrived and was arrested by officers on scene. He finally admitted that he had done wrong. In all, seven vehicles and trailers were recovered from the property as a result of the LoJack® System installed in the Melroe skid steer. One subject was arrested with multiple felony charges. The investigation is ongoing as to suspect’s involvement in additional crimes.

Bad Rental in Dallas

The renter of a 2015 Bobcat skid steer contacted the Dallas Police Department to report it stolen from a jobsite overnight. After verifying and entering the vehicle information into the state and federal crime computers, the LoJack® System concealed in the Bobcat automatically activated. A short while later the Dallas officers picked up the silent LoJack® unit signal and followed the directional and audible cues from the PTC to find the Bobcat parked behind a body shop. Officers made contact with the body shop owner who stated he did not know how the stolen Bobcat got to his shop.  He stated that the parking space was rented, though he did not give the officers the name of the renter.  This is an ongoing investigation; however, the Bobcat was recovered in good condition.

Windy City Twins Recovered

The renters of a 2018 Doosan Bobcat S650 contacted the Calumet City Police to report it stolen from a construction site. Ten minutes after the silent LoJack® unit signal activated, officers from the Harvey Police Department picked up and followed the directional and audible cues from the PTC. The officers tracked the vehicle to the Markham area where the stolen Bobcat was observed in a residence’s backyard.

The original machine was recovered next to another 2018 Doosan Bobcat S650 stolen from the same construction site earlier in the month. However, this second Bobcat had not been equipped with the LoJack® System. Both Bobcats had their vehicle identification numbers and all identifying stickers removed in an attempt to defeat identification. A heavy machinery trailer discovered in the backyard was thought to be stolen and the means used to steal the construction equipment. The commercial owner came to the scene and took possession of both Bobcats, while the trailer was towed to a village yard for further investigation.

Rental Customer Ghosted, An Award Nominated Case

Henry Beck, LoJack Law Enforcement Liaison for North and South Carolina, nominated Lt. Michael Kluttz, Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office in Concord, North Carolina (NC) for the 2019 ARA Insurance/National Equipment Register Award. Below is the incident that earned him this honor.

After a rental customer did not return a skid steer at the end of the contract and defaulted on the rental payments in June 2018, the rental company made numerous attempts to contact the customer to no avail. The skid steer was equipped with a GPS; however, the rental company lost tracking capabilities in August. In September, after several attempts to find the equipment on various jobsites the customer was known to frequent, the rental company contacted the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (NC) and reported it stolen.

“The police department verified the theft and entered the information into the state and federal crime computers, which automatically activated the LoJack® system that was concealed in the skid steer,” Beck says. “Sgt. Michael Kluttz picked up the silent signal with the LoJack Police Tracking Computers (PTC). Following the directional and audible clues, he tracked the vehicle to a residence nearly 70 miles away from the last known GPS location. The skid steer was recovered and returned. The case agent with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department signed a warrant on the rental customer for felony larceny.”

These recovery stories also illustrate the dedication of law enforcement and their desire to keep communities safe. We thank them for their tireless efforts. To learn more about LoJack® Stolen Asset Recovery, visit our page here.