• Commercial Equipment Theft – Is Your Business Easy Prey?

A photo of a backhoe

Find Out What Makes Some Companies More Vulnerable to Commercial Equipment Theft, Plus Eight Effective Ways to Stop Crime From Happening To You

The Morse Insurance team would like to share a troubling trend that could impact many of our commercial insurance clients: construction companies and contractors across the U.S. are reporting stolen equipment, machines and tools at a more frequent rate than ever before.

Over the last few years, commercial equipment theft has become an extremely common occurrence; in fact, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that construction and commercial equipment theft costs businesses up to $1 billion in losses each year. An even more staggering statistic is that only 23% of stolen equipment is ever recovered.

Since the release of the NICB report in 2014, products and services such as LoJack ®, GPS and fleet management systems, have becomemore readily available to help business owners protect their valuable assets. However, theft continues to happen at an alarming rate.

The team at Morse Insurance has over 70 years of experience insuring and protecting construction and contractor businesses like yours. So, we have seen a lot – and insured a whole lot more – but to be honest, even we were surprised by the number of reported commercial thefts across the nation.

It isn’t simply that this theft is happening throughout the U.S. that has the Morse team on high alert; it is the fact that, despite the advancement in tracking systems, several of our very own construction and contractor clients in Southeastern, MA have contacted us with commercial equipment theft situations of their own.

Therefore, we wanted to take the time to write a comprehensive blog on this troubling topic, to not only share our knowledge and experience, but to also answer some common questions and drive home some very important points about commercial theft, including:

  1. Small landscaping companies, commercial construction companies, artisan contractors and electricians are all equally susceptible to this kind of theft
  2. Commercial equipment theft prevention is a multi-layered approach
  3. Partnering with Morse, of course, is the best way to make sure that any theft situation is resolved in an effective and timely manner

What Makes Commercial Equipment Such a Tempting Target for Thieves?

There are three key factors that make commercial equipment so alluring to thieves:

  1. Profitability – A piece of commercial equipment can cost business owners tens of thousands of dollars to purchase. For example, a new wheel loader, depending on size, brand and features, can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $130,000. Because these machines are so expensive, criminals are able to turn a quick, and substantial, profit overseas or to unsuspecting, stateside buyers.
  2. Accessibility – Despite its tonnage, heavy equipment and machinery, is actually fairly easy for thieves to steal. More often than not, thieves are targeting unsupervised equipment and loading it onto the back of empty trailers during off hours, including nights and weekends.
  3. Indistinguishability – Every car and truck has title documentation as well as a unique Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN. These identification features are critical because they document authenticity, distinguish each individual automobile from the next, and, most importantly, can aid in the recovery of a stolen vehicle. Additionally, when you buy or lease a car, you are required by law to register the vehicle. This process establishes a clear link between a vehicle and its owner or primary user, which especially comes in handy for crime detection. Unfortunately, such a process doesn’t exist for heavy machinery, tools or equipment, which makes these items nearly impossible to track down once they are stolen.

Now that you know some of the reasons why it’s so easy for perpetrators of commercial equipment theft to make off with your valuable assets, you are probably eager to know what steps you can take to prevent this type of crime from happening in the first place. Of course, the Morse team has some answers for you!

What Can Landscapers, Contractors and Construction Companies Do to Protect Themselves from Commercial Equipment Theft?

As we pointed out above, less than a quarter of all stolen commercial equipment is ever recovered by the owner, making it imperative that you remain diligent when it comes to protecting your valuable investments. Here are eight of the best theft prevention tips that we’ve compiled from our years of experience working with clients in construction and similar trades:

  1. Avoid leaving equipment unattended in remote areas, like at an unsupervised construction site, on the side of the road or in a fenceless yard.
  2. Remove fuses, battery switches and circuit breakers when equipment is unattended.
  3. Cluster equipment in a “wagon-train circle” after normal work hours and on weekends, placing easily transported equipment, such as generators and compressors, in the middle of the circle and surrounding them with larger pieces of hard-to-move equipment.
  4. Maintain meticulous photo records as well as a detailed inventory list of all your tools and equipment.
  5. Stamp or engrave your machinery with identifying marks, numbers or company logos.
  6. Install a system that disables the electrical or ignition system if universal keys are used.
  7. Invest in a GPS tracking system or LoJack ® system.
  8. Communicate regularly with your trusted insurance agent and let them know when you buy, sell, lease or trade equipment, tools or machinery.

In addition to taking all of these precautions to deter thieves, having a proper business insurance policy in place is critical to protecting your equipment and recovering your assets in the event of a loss. When it comes to safeguarding your tools and equipment, we always recommend Inland Marine coverage to our clients. This coverage is the perfect addition to all the insurance policies that you hopefully already have in place, including Business Liability, Commercial Auto, Bid + Performance Bonds and Workers’ Compensation.

Morse Insurance Is Here to Help You Protect Your Commercial Equipment with Inland Marine Insurance And More

Don’t let the name fool you, Inland Marine Insurance has nothing to do with boats, fish or water; it is actually a type of Property Insurance, and is a great solution for construction companies, contractors, and landscapers to consider. At Morse, we believe this unique policy is practically a necessity for any business in your industry because it is specifically designed to safeguard your tools, machinery and equipment. Whether you’re transporting these items to and from a work site, or you’ve safely stored them at your shop, in your truck, or on site, this policy covers their replacement or repair in the event of an accident, theft or loss.

Moreover, if, despite all of your best precautionary efforts, a theft event happens, you should know that having this powerful insurance policy in place will save you lots of time, stress, and, potentially, income. Should any of your equipment be stolen, report it to both your local police department and your Morse team, as you would do for any other type of theft. Our experienced team will take care of it from there, including getting your claim filed quickly with your carrier and making sure that your stolen piece of equipment is replaced promptly. It is our goal to help you continue with business as usual and to make sure that you have everything you need to complete your projects on time.

At Morse, our clients are always on our mind, and we are constantly working as a team to develop the best insurance and risk management solutions to protect you, your assets, and your company’s future. So, now that we’ve shared some information about commercial equipment theft and how it could pose a very real risk to you and your business, we want to know how else we can help you. Please contact us if you would like more insights on how to protect your commercial equipment from theft and to find out if Inland Marine insurance is the right fit for you and your business. We are happy to provide complimentary reviews of your current policies as well as a free insurance quote.

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