Fields of gold: Texas, California, Florida are where thieves steal heavy equipment most often
A piece of heavy equipment is more likely to be stolen from an empty field or farmhouse in Texas than from any other piece of land in the country.
In 2010, a total of 6,474 thefts of heavy equipment — excluding lawnmowers — were recorded around the country, and 1,023 (16 percent) of them were pilfered in the Lone Star State, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Texas was followed by California (550), Florida (525), North Carolina (307) and Georgia (276).
Drilling down by city, Miami (130) had the greatest number of heavy equipment thefts, followed by Houston (121), Phoenix (62), Conroe, Texas (59) and Las Vegas (59).
|Among heavy equipment thieves, loaders are a hot commodity.|
Last year, 28 percent of stolen heavy equipment was recovered, the National Insurance Crime Bureau says.
Frank Scafidi, a spokesman for the nonprofit bureau, says the location of the biggest number of thefts may stem from the fact that Southern states tend to have warmer climates. That allows construction and agricultural seasons to last longer, exposing the heavy equipment to thieves for a longer period of time.
Heavy equipment refers to items such as loaders, tractors, backhoes and forklifts. In 2010, more loaders (1,362) were stolen than any other piece of heavy equipment, followed by tractors (1,286). A loader is essentially a tractor with a bucket mounted on the front.
It’s no wonder that thieves are attracted to heavy equipment. A tractor or a loader, for instance, easily costs thousands of dollars.
Heavy equipment manufactured by John Deere was the top theft target in 2010, with Caterpillar in second place, Melroe at No. 3 and Kubota at No. 4.
The crime bureau recommends these tips for preventing your heavy equipment from being swiped:
• Install hidden fuel shut-off systems.
• Remove fuses and circuit breakers when equipment is unattended.
• Make 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 of your equipment, as well as a list of the equipments’ identification and serial numbers. 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. Articulated equipment has two or more sections connected by a flexible joint.
• Use sleeve locks to fix backhoe pads in an extended position, keeping wheels off the ground.
Here are the top 10 states for heavy equipment thefts in 2010:
1. Texas — 1,023.
2. California — 550.
3. Florida — 525.
4. North Carolina — 307.
5. Georgia — 276.
6. South Carolina — 259.
7. Oklahoma — 250.
8. Maryland — 188.
9. Ohio — 180.
10. Alabama — 178.