An Omaha, Nebraska, law enforcement officer who headed the efforts to round up construction equipment theft rings in two states has been honored by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Lt. Charles Prokupek, 50, who now heads the city’s homicide unit, is credited with recovering between $2.5 million and $3 million in heavy equipment and $77,000 in small tools from equipment theft rings in Iowa and Nebraska. The investigation recovered skid steers, backhoes, trailers, large pickups, tractors and all-terrain vehicles. In addition, police discovered members of the rings would dress as construction workers to steal tools and small equipment off jobsites. The investigation began in January 2001, and 16 people have pleaded guilty to federal charges connected with the effort.
At his request, AGC is making a $1,500 donation in Prokupek’s name to Omaha’s Children’s Hospital. AGC made the presentation during the annual meeting of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators. For the past 18 years AGC has sponsored an award recognizing a law enforcement official for outstanding achievement in recovering stolen construction equipment.
AGC, NER agreement
AGC and the National Equipment Register also announced during the meeting their agreement for NER to provide its theft prevention and recovery services to AGC’s 33,000 members.
NER will provide training and database services to coordinate the efforts of the insurance industry, equipment owners and law enforcement against heavy equipment theft. NER’s Heavy Equipment Loss Prevention Technology lets equipment owners quickly and securely register machines with NER. Through a 24-hour hotline, NER then helps law enforcement identify the owner of any registered equipment, sometimes before the owner knows the equipment is missing. To deter theft, a 4-inch-by-5-inch warning decal is affixed to each registered machine to warn thieves of the increased likelihood of detection.
Recent insurance premium hikes have prompted AGC members to be especially aware of the problem of equipment theft, according to Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s chief executive officer.