First word: Easy prey

During a recent automobile trip to Atlanta, my travel companion, who owns a trucking business in our hometown, would interrupt our conversation to announce he had spotted one of his trucks moving down the interstate in the opposite direction. At one point during the three-and-a-half-hour trip, he saw one of his trailers being towed by a truck whose company name he didn’t recognize.

It impressed me that he could pick out his vehicles from fast-moving traffic, but when he noticed this particular trailer and its number, my interest level picked up dramatically. He called in the number to his dispatcher, who looked up the trailer in the company’s database. The dispatcher called back to report the trailer was indeed my friend’s and had been stolen almost two weeks earlier.

I was curious about how often this sort of thing happened in my friend’s trucking business. “It happens all the time,” he told me. “When you think about it, trailers are easy prey for thieves. All you have to do is back a truck up, hook up the trailer and off you go.” Changing or painting over the identifying numbers is also important, but obviously not to the thief who just blew past us. “There are too many vehicles traveling the roads for the authorities to pay much attention,” my friend explained.

This incident opened my eyes to a huge problem that’s unfortunately all too commonplace in business. There are parallels in stealing trucks and equipment. Both can be sold domestically in a matter of days and both can be lucrative for the sophisticated thief who eludes authorities long enough.

I hope our caught-in-the-act cover photo made you pause. This magazine showcases our editors’ Special Report on Equipment Theft. When you read our interview with an equipment thief, see if you come away with the same impression I did – that the guy grew up absolutely loving construction machinery, but instead of operating it or managing a fleet, he seemed content in trying to figure out how to take it from someone.

I am baffled by why someone would channel all of their intellect and effort into a criminal activity when they could use those same talents to become successful in a legitimate business.

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Equipment World’s associate publisher, Gregg Terry, recently told me his biggest fear is identity theft. Gregg senses he is most vulnerable to someone who might hack his personal information off the Internet or fish it out of his garbage can. The reality of identity theft never occurred to me until a family member of a close friend revealed he has been fighting to regain his good credit after someone used his identity to run up several thousands of dollars in debt. He is left to sort out the mess while the thief has moved on to another identity.

It is a different world today than the one we grew up in. We better learn to make some adjustments or prepare to be taken advantage of.