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SAFETY WORKS Protecting your equipment

Keeping ahead of the equipment thieves by Mike Riepenhoff

Like the construction industry, landscap- ing equipment theſt is a widespread problem, according to the National Equipment Register (, which estimates that both are seeing close to $1 billion in theſt costs per year.

Te theſt of mowers, blowers and even fuel canisters can add up and really put a significant financial loss to any business.

In the Atlanta area, we are seeing equipment theft from multiple areas via different acts.

We have heard everything from bolt cutters that actually cut the latch of the truck, bypassing your expensive lock, to the “I was only gone for a second” plea.

Understanding the cause To help prevent theſt, we have to understand how it CAN happen. I don’t have all the answers, so this article will really benefit the industry if we all can provide feedback.

Employee theft Sadly, theſt does not necessarily involve a rogue thief; it can occur from within, if your company does not have proper controls in place.

• Tracking your equipment by having the se- rial numbers documented and stored in a safe place will help for reporting to police as well as insurance.

• Have a unique identifier installed on the equipment.

• Take photos of the equipment for cases when the serial number is mysteriously missing.


• Have a solid inventory management system in place. All equipment should be

inventoried at least quarterly, if not monthly. Tis can be completed during any preventa- tive maintenance cycle for powered equip- ment. Equipment should be accounted for and checking in and out equipment should require a witness. CCTV can be substituted for personnel, but this should be monitored for effectiveness.

• Hold your supervisors accountable for equipment. Te team should know that the supervisor is responsible for the equipment and this person is evaluated on this measure.

• Hold your employees accountable, too. Internal theſt usually occurs a little at a time. Tey borrow equipment at first and then see that they can do it more oſten and with no questioning. Equipment should stay at the office overnight.

• Make sure that conducting background checks is part of your hiring process.

• Also remind them to not be a hero if armed robbery were the case. Agree and obey the commands of the assailants. Have them try their best to capture images in their memory of the vehicle, license, facial fea- tures, clothing, etc., but only if they are safe to do so.

Job site A job site in the landscaping field is unique and dynamic, no matter what customer you are ser- vicing. Commercial properties might be so large that you are never within eyesight of your truck. Residential properties can be in hidden areas or have unique parking situations. • First and foremost, lock the truck once the equipment you are using is out and ready for use. One of our outstanding board members (and safety committee co-chair) has pro- vided us with a way to prevent the latch from being cut. Tieves are in all areas so remind them that it does not matter what neighbor- hood you are in or even if it is too crowded for a theſt to occur.

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