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Combating Equipment Theft with GPS Tracking

mini excavator on gray gravel jobsite 2

According to the National Equipment Register (NER), somewhere between $300 million to $1 billion worth of construction equipment is stolen every year in the United States. On most construction sites, loaders, towables, and excavators are especially vulnerable to theft due to their high-value and movability.

It should go without saying that replacing stolen assets comes at incredible cost to equipment dealers. But what makes equipment theft such a massive issue for the equipment rental industry is that associated costs extend beyond purchasing new assets. Renting temporary assets to continue to serve customers before true replacements are secured can be expensive. Lack of availability (caused by theft) can result in lost opportunities. What’s more, theft can also result in increased insurance premiums, further compounding associated expenses.

Fortunately, equipment dealers are far from powerless when it comes to protecting their assets from theft. In this blog, we’ll be exploring how rental companies can best make use of GPS tracking devices as part of their broader loss prevention strategies.

A Last Line of Defense

During the checkout process, many equipment dealers wisely choose to instruct their customers on the importance of keeping their job sites secure. Simple things like verifying surveillance systems are functioning properly and ensuring gates are locked can go a long way to deter opportunistic thieves. But even when these best practices are followed, theft can still occur. This is where GPS tracking devices come in as a last line of defense for vulnerable construction assets.

Many GPS tracking devices are capable of automatically detecting movement during off hours, enabling them to “wake up” in the event of suspicious activity. This function can quickly alert owners of wrongdoing and be used by local police departments to locate stolen assets. A 2014 study by the National Insurance Crime Bureau found that only 23% of stolen assets are ever returned to their rightful owners. But with the help of GPS tracking, recovery rates can be greatly improved.

Maintaining GPS Tracking Devices

One of the great things about GPS trackers is how low maintenance they are. Because they require so little energy, many trackers come equipped with batteries that can last several years, making them perfect for non-powered assets. And for powered assets, GPS trackers can run off the battery of the equipment they are attached to, enabling them to operate with minimal power concerns.

That being established, batteries do eventually expire, and when they do, the GPS trackers that rely on them become completely ineffective. Because of this, equipment dealers should incorporate checking the status of their GPS trackers’ batteries into their regular inspection processes. By doing so, companies can ensure that their best chance at recovering their assets in the event of theft is always active.

Final Thoughts

Equipment theft is a complicated issue, and as a result, no single thing can alleviate the problem completely. GPS tracking devices go a great way to combat theft, but they work best as one aspect of a larger loss prevention strategy. By passing on security best practices to their customers, holding their own yards to high degrees of scrutiny, developing rapports with local police departments, and implementing a wide number of small countermeasures, rental companies can significantly improve their odds in the ongoing struggle.

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