November 2, 2009

Heavy construction theft equipment continues

By David Colmans

The National Insurance Crime Bureau and the National Equipment Register reported last month that more than13,500 pieces of heavy equipment were stolen in 2008 and of that number the top five states represented 43 percent of the thefts.

Georgia ranked fifth for stolen heavy equipment while Texas was first, Florida second, North Carolina third and California fourth. Between 2005 and 2007, the state ranking in order for stolen heavy equipment was:

1. Texas

2. California

3. Florida

4. North Carolina

5. Georgia

The majority of thefts by location were thefts from others’ premises followed by theft from the insured’s premises and lagging far behind were theft while in transit. The most popular type of equipment stolen was mowers, riding or garden tractors with more than 5,000 taken. The second most popular were loader vehicles including backhoes, wheeled or tracked vehicles or skid steer vehicles.

Equipment produced since 2000 accounted for 79 percent of the reported thefts. The age of the stolen equipment was just under 18 percent for 2008 models, just under 14 percent for 2007 models and just under 12 percent for 2006 models.

On the recovery side of the equation, only 21 percent of stolen equipment was recovered in 2008. There are several factors as to why the recovery rates is rather low:

• Delays in discovery and reporting of theft.

• Inaccurate or nonexistent owner records.

• Lack of pre-purchase screening of used equipment.

• Limited law enforcement resources dedicated to equipment investigations.

• Complexities in equipment numbering systems.

• Limited, possibly inaccurate, equipment information in law enforcement systems.

From 2005 to 2008, the following states accounted for 44 percent of recoveries.

1. California

2. Texas

3. Florida

4. North Carolina

5. Georgia

Here are the key statistics about heavy equipment theft according to the NICB and NER:

• 15,639,322: Number of ownership records

• $10,180,845: Value of items recovered by law enforcement with the help of NER and the NICB

• $27,770: Average value of machines recovered by police with NER and NICB assistance

• 17,790: Law enforcement officers trained by the NICB in 2008

• 11,177: Fleets with equipment registered with NER

• 328: Recoveries made by law enforcement with the help of NER and the NICB in 2008

The following conclusions are drawn from the results of the study:

Equipment owners and insurers should focus risk-management efforts on easily transportable high-value equipment.

Equipment security and work-site security are important. Work-site security should be a priority because equipment often sits in areas with little or no physical security.

Officers investigating equipment theft should focus on popular targets and look for red flags, such as location, type of transport, missing decals, altered paint, and, especially, missing identification plates.

The area that needs the most improvement is also the area that promises immediate results: insured supplying accurate information to law enforcement 24 hours a day through.



David Colmans is the executive director of the Georgia Insurance Information Service. Contact him at (770) 565-3806 or dcolmans@giis.org.