$9 million in equipment stolen in 2003

More than $9 million in construction equipment assets were stolen in 2003, according to LoJack, a manufacturer of stolen vehicle recovery systems. Thefts increased approximately 15 percent from 2002.

“Our most recent theft study reveals that construction equipment theft continues to be a growing, costly problem,” said Joseph F. Abely, president and chief operating officer of LoJack.

According to the report, theft rings are on the rise in many areas. Theft rings take stolen equipment and either chop it up into pieces to sell or re-sell the intact equipment to unsuspecting contractors. The study found that nearly $3 million worth of stolen equipment was recovered from theft rings and chop shops.

Of the equipment stolen from jobsites last year, newer equipment is the most common target. Loaders, skid steers, generators, air compressors and welders are among the most stolen items, representing 81 percent of all construction equipment recoveries documented by LoJack. Other equipment that was popular with thieves included forklifts, tractors, excavators, light towers, vans, trenchers, stucco mixers, utility vehicles, message boards and dozers. Of the machines recovered, 80 percent were five years old or less. Most thefts occurred on weekends, and the majority of recoveries occurred on Mondays. The longer a piece of equipment is missing, according to the study, the greater the chances it will not be found or will be discovered damaged.

The LoJack report also found that incidences of construction equipment theft and recovery were highest in the South and Southwest regions of the country. California had the highest number of thefts and recoveries, approximately 21 percent, Florida and Texas experienced 19 percent of thefts and Arizona followed with 10 percent.