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Revealed: Thieves Target Rigids, Trailers and Small MPE
Insurance is crucial to safeguard your assets, but experts suggest there are measures you can take to protect them from theft – and avoid unnecessary and costly disruption to business operations.
Rigid trucks and mobile plant and equipment (MPE) under five tonnes are at greatest risk of theft, new NTI data reveals.
And not surprisingly, trucks, trailers and MPE located in metropolitan areas, close to arterial roads, are most susceptible to being stolen – especially on Mondays, which ranks as the worst day of the week for larceny.
Overall, the latest NTI data shows the proportion of major losses (> $50,000) caused by theft ticked up slightly in 2021.
While insurance is crucial to safeguard assets, experts suggest there are measures owners can take to protect their critical assets from increasingly sophisticated thieves – and avoid unnecessary and costly disruption to business operations.
Top Tips for Theft Prevention
- Store equipment in a secure location
- Install tracking devices on machinery
- Maintain an up-to-date asset register
- Be careful when hiring out equipment
Store Equipment in a Secure Location
First up, NTI risk experts advise owners to ensure equipment is stored in a secure place when parked up.
“Most trucks and trailers are parked up on premise so it’s more about the site security than the vehicle itself,” NTI Heavy Motor Risk Engineer Paul Bressan says.
NTI Mobile Plant and Equipment Risk Engineer Hayden Reed suggests installing barbed-wire fencing around the perimeter of the property, ideally electrified.
Additionally, he recommends the fitting of bright lights and/or motion sensor lights that switch on when movement is detected.
It’s also not a bad idea to install signage alerting potential thieves that the property has security systems in place.
“It’s important to understand the property’s key entry and exit points and install obstacles such as drains at the key points to make it harder for thieves to get in and out,” Reed adds.
Bressan also advises operators, both small and large, to install a CCTV system, ideally one monitored remotely 24/7.
“We rarely see theft from larger carriers as they tend to have CCTV on site and after-hours security,” he says.
“Smaller carriers tend to rely on just fencing and maybe CCTV surveillance.”
Additionally, Bressan urges owners to store spare keys in a secure location.
“A lot of carriers have a lock box on the side of the building for contractors coming in and out that can be easily accessed. They’re pretty easy (for thieves) to break into,” he warns.
For MPE located off site, such as on road works projects, Reed suggests owners consider investing in vandal covers. The metal covers are used to encase the MPE when not in use and inhibit entry.
Install Tracking Devices
Bressan also recommends owners fit antitheft devices, like GPS tracking systems on trucks, trailers and MPE.
While newer equipment comes standard with fleet management software that tracks its whereabouts at all times, older models will need a system retrofitted, he notes.
In addition to vehicle immobilisers such as wheel locks, shut-off systems, ignition locks and battery switches, Bressan suggests utilising lock-out tags on trailers to protect cargo from theft.
“Rigids and prime movers are not the main focus, it’s more about trailers and cargo in trailers,” he says.
Installed on cargo doors, these security devices identify what cargo is in the back of the trailer and whether it has been tampered with in any way.
“With larger trucks (thieves) tend to break into the vehicle, there’s less chance of the actual vehicle being stolen, so the more security measures the better.
“If it can make a difference, if it means it takes longer (to break into the vehicle), it’s an added solution,” he says.
Document What You’ve Got
Bressan believes asset registers are “a must”.
An asset register is a comprehensive list of all company assets. It contains information including location, ownership, and condition. It should also include information about any maintenance and repair activities, inspection schedules, issues raised, barcodes, models, and other relevant notes.
This information can be saved in a specialised piece of software, a database, a Word document, or a spreadsheet. Whatever format it is in, an information asset register must be accurate and kept up-to-date to serve its purpose.
It’s also worth considering micro-dot asset identification system which mark each asset with a unique code recorded on a secure database and matched with other asset and ownership identifiers such as VINs.
This will help law enforcement to not only identify stolen equipment but also trace them back to their rightful owners.
Bressan says such measures are especially important for trailers.
“Trailers are a lot harder to keep track of as they tend to be shared between carriers and left on the roadside unattended,” he notes.
Lastly, Reed advises owners to have robust checks and balances in place when hiring out MPE.
He says NTI has detected increasingly sophisticated crime gangs targeting MPE, especially in the Sydney area.
“What we’ve seen is people who are creating fake companies, hiring equipment, paying the first couple of invoices, always in cash, and then all of a sudden they immobilise the GPS tracking system and they disappear,” he says.
“Owners need to ensure they have robust systems in place to check the legitimacy of those they’re hiring their equipment to.”