Preventing Theft

Jul 8, 2019

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) estimates that up to $1 billion is lost annually to heavy equipment theft. Costs incurred because of theft include equipment replacement, short term rentals, lost time dealing with law enforcement and insurance adjusters, increased labor expenses due to downtime, and penalties that can occur if a project is delayed.

Here are some tips that can help you deter theft.

Site Security


  • Surround your worksite with see through fencing, so any trespassers are visible from the outside.
  • Fencing should be no shorter than 8 feet high with posts spaced no greater than the width of your fleet’s narrowest unit.
  • Attach barbed wire or razor tape at the top of fencing.
  • Perform regular fence inspections.
  • Repair damage to fencing immediately.

Warning Signs

  • Post “No Trespassing” or “Warning” signs around the perimeter of the jobsite. Make sure the laws violators would be breaking are included on the signs, as well as the penalty for being caught.
  • Affix decals alerting potential thieves that equipment is registered in national databases used by law enforcement on all machines.


  • Attach padlocks permanently to every gate.
  • If possible, maintain only one entrance and exit to the site.


  • Place lights aimed at the jobsite along the property’s border.
  • Perform regular lighting inspections.
  • Replace light bulbs immediately.

Equipment Security

Mark Equipment Clearly

  • Engrave your company name on all buckets, booms, and frames of each piece of your equipment.

Anchor Equipment

  • Use cables or chains to secure unattended equipment.
  • Make chains or cables noticeable by painting them a bright color.

Immobilize Equipment

  • Removed hitches from trailers and towed equipment.
  • Remove tires from equipment no in regular use.
  • Install theft prevention mechanisms that disable fuel, hydraulic, and/or electrical systems on equipment.
  • Install GPS trackers on large equipment.
  • Remove wires and/or batteries from equipment.

Maintain Records to Increase the Odds of Recovering Stolen Equipment

Plan for the possibility of having equipment stolen by maintaining accurate records. This will help aid in police investigations.

  • Keep a full, detailed inventory including record year, manufacturer, and model and serial number of all equipment on your jobsite.
  • Take photos of all machines.
  • Update photos as your inventory changes.
  • Record all modifications like paint color.
  • Register your equipment on a national database that works with law enforcement such as the National Equipment Register (NER) at


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