After Years of Decline, Heavy Equipment Theft Increased In 2013

Image Credit: WeGoLook

Image Credit: WeGoLook

Late last month the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and the National Equipment Register (NER) released their 2013 Theft Report. For the first time in years, the number of reported heavy equipment thefts increased. The 11,486 heavy equipment thefts reported in 2013 is a 5 percent increase over the 10,925 thefts reported in 2012. This is a shocking reversal given the fact that reported thefts of heavy equipment dropped by about 7 percent in 2012 and 12.5 percent in 2011.

The percentage of heavy equipment recovered hasn’t changed that much over the years. In 2013 and 2012 only 21 percent of the equipment reported stolen was eventually recovered by law enforcement. This is only a slight improvement over previous years, it was 20 percent in 2011, 19 percent in 2010 and 18 percent in 2009. The key takeaway here is that if you’re a victim of construction equipment theft there’s about an 80 percent chance you’ll never see your stolen equipment again.


The top five states for heavy equipment theft in 2013 were:

  1. Texas
  2. North Carolina
  3. Florida
  4. California
  5. South Carolina

These five states were in the top five in 2012 as well and have been in either the top five or top ten for several years. Texas, North Carolina and Florida have held the top three spots in some order since 2008. These five states were also in the top ten for equipment recoveries. The only state not in the top five was South Carolina which was sixth on the list.

The top five manufacturers for heavy equipment theft in 2013 were:

  1. John Deere
  2. Kubota
  3. Bobcat
  4. Caterpillar
  5. Toro

These five manufacturers also made up the top five lists for 2012 and 2011. John Deere has consistently taken the top spot for a number of years probably due in large part to the fact that the most stolen type of equipment is riding mowers/garden tractors.

As expected, the top five months for equipment thefts are May through September when the weather is warmer and construction activity is at its highest. According to the report you are about twice as likely to have your construction equipment stolen from the jobsite than when it is stored at you own location.

One of the things I found lacking in the report was some type of explanation as to why after years of declining theft we suddenly have an increase last year. It could be that as the construction industry continues to recover and grow there are more opportunities for thieves because of increased construction activity. This would not explain why thefts decreased in 2012 despite the fact that construction spending increased more in 2012 over the previous year than it did in 2011.

With the recovery rate remaining relatively flat over the past several years and manufacturers doing little to improve the antitheft technology on the equipment they produce it is up to you to take the necessary steps to secure your construction equipment and deter thieves from targeting your valuable assets. For some helpful tips on how to do this you can check our previous post on The High Cost of Construction Site Theft.

The report also covers theft and recoveries by model year, cities and census population. You can find the entire report as well as prior year reports here.

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