5 Steps to Stop Equipment Theft

Heavy equipment theft is a pervasive problem across the world, and costs businesses millions of pounds every year. Here are five steps you can take to prevent it.

Worker with mask talking into walkie-talkie
Worker with mask talking into walkie-talkie

The equipment you have at your jobsite is highly valuable. You know this, and so do criminals in your area.

The cost of heavy equipment theft is hard to nail down, but most estimates state that it totals millions each year. That estimate does not factor in the damage caused to property while the crime takes place, or the cost of unplanned downtime. To avoid a costly and potentially damaging situation, business owners should take proactive measures to prevent theft and the financial loss that results.

Here are five actions that can help prevent costly crimes from impacting your company:


Review your jobsite and consider your most likely targets, weak spots in your security measures and how timing and seasonality can affect your risk.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these actions:


The most common types of stolen equipment include:

  • Mowers and riding or garden tractors
  • Skid steer loaders
  • Backhoe loaders
  • Wheel loaders
  • Tractors
  • Utility vehicles

In addition, keep in mind that criminals don’t always target full pieces of equipment. Some will take tires, lift GPS systems or even syphon gas from the tank.

Also, consider how easily moved your equipment is. Excavators, for example, are difficult to maneuver, which may be one reason they only account for 4% of equipment thefts.


Think like a criminal: If you were to steal from your jobsite, how could you do it? Consider how secure the fencing around the jobsite is, and whether equipment is stored in locked enclosures. Locking tires with heavy duty chains can deter thieves as well.

Be judicious in granting access to your location. A key or password in the hands of the wrong person can easily be passed onto a criminal, without the foreman or manager ever knowing. In some cases, a security guard may be worth hiring to thwart any attempts to gain unauthorized access to your jobsite.


Equipment thieves are most likely to be active during the summer months, and at night. During these periods of time, take time to review all prevention methods in place, and consider which areas may need more attention.


Criminals tend to prefer working in the shadows. Installing security lighting throughout your jobsite can deter thieves. There are a few options for doing this. Motion sensor lighting puts a spotlight on unexpected movement on your jobsite. This will alert you to suspicious activity, and could potentially scare off criminals.

Alternatively, light towers that illuminate the entire location could dissuade thieves from entering your jobsite at all.


Dishonest employees can help criminals access heavy equipment. Building a rapport with individuals, as well as making a point to stay up to date on job progress can deter crime, The Balance pointed out.

There are multiple benefits of being actively involved in tracking job progress and taking note of individual accomplishments. First, you’ll have a clear idea of how the project is coming along, which can help in reporting and benchmarking.

Second, it lets employees or contractors know that you’re aware of their actions, which may help them feel more engaged at work. This, in turn, can result in higher productivity.

Finally, when employees know that you’re paying close attention to job progress, equipment and resources, it’s less likely that workers will commit crimes against the company, or assist others in doing so.


If equipment theft does occur, the best outcome you can hope for is to recover it. Unfortunately, only about one-in-five pieces of stolen equipment are recovered. You can improve your chances of reclaiming your stolen machinery when they’re equipped with GPS tracking technology (Like Product Link and VisionLink), Construction Business Owner pointed out.

Having this information at your disposal can help you react quickly when something is stolen, and give important information to law enforcement.


Taking proactive measures to prevent equipment theft can help your company avoid costly crimes. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to guarantee that no crime will ever happen at your jobsite. The best way to protect your business is to ensure you have the proper commercial insurance to help you financially recover from theft.

The insurance programs available through Cat Financial can protect the investment you make in heavy equipment for your company. Plus, you can easily sign up for these plans when you lease or buy equipment from your local Cat dealer. Learn more about our finance and extended protection options today.


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