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Who would steal an entire earthmover?

I never imaged anybody’d have enough nerve to steal anything as large as a bulldozer, backhoe or excavator, but this piece in Compact Equipment magazine outlines the many ways equipment gets stolen — to the tune of $1 billion a year — and how to prevent thefts. One vignette about a contractor who put a “curfew” on his machinery to prevent anyone from using it without his permission:

Consider the case of a Tracy, Calif., contractor who got a call on his cell phone late one Sunday night indicating that somebody was trying to start his Caterpillar backhoe during the curfew. Upon arriving at his yard after he remotely confirmed the backhoe’s location via the online satellite image in the software, the contractor found his guard dogs poisoned but all his equipment intact. Unfortunately the neighboring contractor’s yard was also broken into and the identical model backhoe, which was unprotected, was stolen.

Organized crime rings are the major players and they will case multiple jobsites and yards to plot out target A, target B, etc. So when the thieves’ attempt for a quick grab was thwarted by the disabled machine, they simply went for the next available, easier target. By immobilizing the equipment with a curfew, the target was “hardened” and the vandals were deterred. This technique is also very effective in warding off other subcontractors and late night joy riders, who typically end up damaging the equipment, jobsite or themselves.

I read somewhere last month that people were stealing Cat generators in northern California to provide power for illicit marijuana plantations.

Doesn’t take as much nerve as you might suspect to steal a tractor: thieves climb the fence, get the machine running, use it to knock down the fence and load it onto a trailer. Usually on a weekend because nobody’s around the job site.

The threat of theft, however, turns into a selling point for Caterpillar’s high-tech machinery tracking system, which uses GPS to note where machines are running and communications software to tell site operators when machines need maintenance or repairs. It also tells the cops where stolen equipment is (until the crooks learn how to disable it, of course).

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Tom Mangan posted at 8:12 am February 3rd, 2009 |

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