I doubt anyone reading this article hasn’t suffered from a theft of some sort; from the opportunist lifting a hedge cutter from a vehicle, to the lifting of turf from a construction site. No matter how small the loss, the disruption, cost and feeling of violation can leave lasting effects. Our industry is particularly vulnerable due to the equipment and materials we use, both of which can be easily moved or unknowingly sold back into the marketplace.
Securing equipment in strongboxes or chaining machines to vehicle bodies are little deterrent to the determined criminal armed with bolt cutters or an angle grinder. I have seen the carrying handles of blowers smashed to free them from their security chains, which somewhat reduces the resale value! And it’s not just small kit; commercial vehicles, mini diggers, tractors – all are viable targets and increasingly being stolen to order. So what can we do? What follows is not rocket science, just a few pointers to think about and hopefully make the would-be thief think twice.
In the depot try to keep equipment locked or chained in containers or cages. It probably won’t deter the thief, but it will make life difficult and noisy for them to get what they want.
If you have recently taken delivery of new equipment, dispose of the packaging carefully so it doesn’t advertise that you have something valuable on site.
Consider painting power tools, strimmers, chainsaws, disc cutters, and the like with bright coloured paint. It may not look pretty, but it will make them difficult to shift at a car boot sale or in a pub car park!
Mark machines with asset or plant numbers. Make it visible and permanent using a heat gun, engraving tool or welder. Again not pretty, but permanent and visible.
At the end of the day park equipment in such a way that it makes things difficult for any intruder to gain access to equipment and materials. This may be a pain to sort out the next day, but not as soul destroying as turning up to find the depot ransacked.
Look around your yard or depot. Inspect the fence or wall to ensure that it is secure and damage free, repair any damage or, as a short term fix, block it with something large and immobile like a skip. Also consider where there are buildings and containers near fences – could access be gained by this route and how could this be prevented?
Consider wheel clamps for vehicles and trailed plant, track locks for mini diggers, engine immobilisers or simply remove the batteries.
Before the weekend or holiday breaks spend ten minutes looking round the depot and yard to ensure all is secure. Consider blocking the main gates, doors and entrances with a vehicle, tractor, or implement. This may just make someone attempting to gain access think twice.
Where vehicles are taken home, make sure you know where they are parked and how they are secured. Trackers are all well and good but are not infallible; consider a highly visible crook lock which may make someone think twice.
Old school but it just might make the opportunist thief think twice
Check your alarm system to make sure it works, if you have CCTV make sure they are switched on and recording, the camera lenses are clean, facing the right way and generally doing what they are meant to be doing.
Keep an eye out for any suspicious activity or visits which could be construed as “casing the joint”. Make a note of registration numbers and descriptions, especially if there are suspect characters and/or fraternities in the area.
Lock down everything and make life difficult for an intruder so that they think twice about breaking in.
Angus Lindsay, Group Head of Asset & Fleet Management