A report this month from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) shows five of the top 10 states nationwide with the most reported heavy equipment thefts are from the Southeast region.
In NICB’s “Equipment Theft Report,” published on Oct. 10, Texas was ranked number one in 2012 with 1,401 reported thefts last year. In second place was North Carolina with 1,037 thefts — followed by Florida in third with 890 thefts. In fourth place was California with 686 thefts. Georgia and South Carolina tied for fifth, with 595 each. Tennessee came in seventh, with 474 thefts.
There were also four Southeast cities in the report’s list of the top 10 cities nationwide for heavy equipment thefts. Houston topped the list with 163 reported thefts. Miami came in second with 107. Other Southeast cities include Decatur, Georgia, which came in sixth with 63 reported thefts; San Antonio, Texas, which came in eighth with 56 thefts; and Knoxville, Tennessee, which took the ninth spot with 55.
In 2012, a total of 10,925 heavy equipment thefts were reported to law enforcement — a decrease of 7 percent from the 11,705 reported in 2011, according to NICB. When compared with the 13,511 reported thefts in 2008, there has been an overall 19 percent reduction in heavy equipment thefts.
The three most stolen heavy equipment items in 2012 were: mowers (riding or garden tractor: 5,363); loaders (skid steer, wheeled: 1,943); and tractors (wheeled or tracked: 1,459). NICB said heavy equipment manufactured by John Deere was the number one theft target in 2012, followed in order by Kubota Tractor Corp., Bobcat, Caterpillar and Toro.
As for recoveries, only 20 percent of heavy equipment stolen in 2012 was found, making it a costly crime for insurance companies, equipment owners and rental agencies, NICB said.
NICB urges equipment owners to incorporate theft prevention strategies into their business practices and recommends the following theft prevention tips:
• Install hidden fuel shut-off systems, and remove fuses and circuit breakers when equipment is unattended.
• Render equipment immobile or difficult to move after hours or on weekends by clustering it in a “wagon circle.” Place more easily transported items, such as generators and compressors, in the middle of the circle surrounded by larger pieces of equipment.
• Maintain a photo archive and a specific list of the PIN and component part serial numbers of each piece of heavy equipment in a central location. Stamp or engrave equipment parts with identifying marks, numbers or corporate logos.
• Use hydro locks to fix articulated equipment in a curved position, preventing it from traveling in a straight line.
• Use sleeve locks to fix backhoe pads in an extended position, keeping wheels off the ground.