Take Control of Securing and Locating Portable Assets
MOBILELOCK™ is there when you can’t be. This state-of-the art portable wireless alarm system and GPS locator protects your valuable assets by enabling you to monitor and locate them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Minutes after Dan Harvey pulled into the job-site parking lot, he knew he was in for a long day. Dan is Fleet Manager for Pioneer General Contractors of Amarillo, Texas.
The gaping hole in a tool trailer told him that thieves had struck in the night, and he would have to rearrange his schedule.
“I knew immediately that I wouldn’t be able to do my job. Instead, I’d be spending half the day putting together a list of missing tools, finding replacements, talking to police, contacting the insurance company and calling the boss. This wasn’t the first time we’d been hit,” Dan recalls.
Dan’s experience is all too familiar to construction workers across the U.S. who can’t help but wonder what they’ll find when they arrive at work. Will storage doors be pried open? Tool trailers heisted? Building materials missing? Backhoes, tractors and other heavy equipment gone except for tracks in the dirt? Sometimes the thievery is subtle; a toolbox a worker forgot to put away vanishes without a trace. Other times the signs are
obvious; an ax was used to hack open the Pioneer tool trailer.
All job sites vulnerable
Job-site thievery is a nationwide problem, with incidents reported from Florida to Alaska. Any place that has tools and construction equipment is a temptation for those who want
something for nothing. A recent study1 by the DEWALT Industrial Tool Company stimated
that job-site thieves strike 95 percent of contractors at least once annually. According to the study, “Tool theft, material theft, and truck/van theft are the top three types of job-site losses.”
General Electric Security, a subsidiary of General Electric Subscribe for free at www.grainger.com/supplylink fall 07 SupplyLink Company, reported in 2006 that although it’s difficult to put a precise dollar amount on the costs of tools and equipment
stolen from job sites, “we know the problem is measured in billions of dollars each year.”
The ramifications of job-site theft go far beyond the costs of tools and equipment. “All told, each of our people spends on average about 90 minutes a day putting tools and equipment away and making sure everything is secured in a job box or work trailer and all motorized equipment is locked up tight,” Dan says. “But even that doesn’t mean we won’t be hit by the time we come back. In fact, at least three tool trailers and one utility trailer with all their contents have been hauled away by crooks in the seven
years that I’ve been with the company.”
Targets large and small
Large machines such as skid steers, forklifts and scissor lifts are also stolen regularly. A LoJack Corporation report3 details the problem and indicates thieves are selective about the heavy equipment they steal.
“Not surprisingly,” the report states, “newer models are more often stolen than older equipment, as the resale value of new equipment is greatest. In 2006, 68 percent of the equipment stolen was 5 years old or less.” LoJack markets anti-theft equipment that employs Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to help customers recover stolen property. Smaller power tools are popular with pilferers, too. “Over the years we’ve had plenty of DEWALT cordless power tools, Milwaukee Tool Sawzalls, and Hilti hammer drills get legs and leave the premises overnight,” says Dan. “It’s frustrating because
you just don’t know what you’ll find on any given morning.” Although Dan says that some of the greatest risk of theft occurs on job sites near college campuses or other high pedestrian traffic areas – indicating spur-of-the-moment thievery – the LoJack study points to a rise in organized criminal activity:
“Professional thieves appear to have discovered a lucrative
market in construction equipment. Thieves appear to be reselling
the equipment to unsuspecting contractors or, in a few cases,
disassembling the equipment into pieces for re-sale as parts.”
What can be done?
To reduce job-site theft, Dan recommends: “Chaining and padlocking tools and building
materials and keeping them in a well-lighted area; placing heavy equipment against trailer doors so they can’t be opened; and always locking motorized construction machinery and removing the keys.”
In it’s publication Loss Prevention And Security Techniques For Equipment Owners,4 the National Equipment Register (NER) offers many recommendations for preventing
job-site theft and recovering stolen equipment, including:
- If possible, have only one entrance/exit at the site.
- Locking hardware should consist of a case-hardened chain
and a high-security padlock.
- Make your theft prevention policy part of your business
plan and link it to incentives for employees.
- Consider hiring a guard service to monitor your work site
and/or installing video surveillance systems.
- Register your equipment on a national database that works
with law enforcement.
- Conduct unannounced and random job site visits to ensure
nothing unusual is happening while work is not in progress.
- Work with local law enforcement before a theft occurs. This
will allow officers to partol more effectively as they will be
aware of expected activity at your job site in off hours and
know about any projects you consider to be high risk.
DEWALT also recently introduced Mobilelock, a GPS-based, wireless alarm system designed to help the construction industry battle work-site crime.
Mobilelock protects assets ranging from gear stored in tool cribs to equipment used for material handling such as forklifts, carts and trucks. The Mobilelock device – which is about the size of a deck of cards – is mounted in a hidden area on the tool, vehicle, or equipment.
As a first line of defense, sensors in Mobilelock activate a siren when vibration or other signs of tampering are detected. If the equipment is stolen anyway, owners can log onto the Mobilelock Web site, enter a pass code, and access street maps and satellite imagery that show the approximate location of the item.
The system has helped contractors and authorities recover thousands of dollars worth of stolen property. The following from the DEWALT Web site5 is a case in point:
“In February, 2007, the Will County Sheriff’s Department of Illinois along with the Tri-County Auto Theft Task Force…implemented three Mobilelock units to identify areas of frequent job-site theft, capture the thieves, and recover the stolen assets. Within two months of using the Mobilelock units, the task force caught nine thieves and recovered approximately $237,500 in stolen heavy construction equipment.”
Investing in prevention
You can reduce the odds that your firm will be victimized by: implementing the measures recommended by anti-crime organizations such as the NER; purchasing a security system and other equipment designed to deter thieves; and reminding employees to secure all property on a daily basis and be constantly on the lookout for suspicious activity.
Not only is the financial impact of job-site thievery enormous, as Dan sums up, “It sure hurts when you lose your tools.” SL
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