Theft Prevention Tips for Heavy Equipment

Heavy Equipment Theft Prevention

Heavy equipment theft remains a serious and costly issue, with losses reaching into the tens of millions of dollars annually in Canada and hundreds of millions of dollars in the U.S. These losses include expenses for equipment replacement, short term rentals, time spent dealing with law enforcement and adjusters, labor costs due to downtime, and potential penalties resulting from project delays.

To help you avoid these costs, we’ve put together some key tips for theft prevention that will protect your equipment and your investment.

Site security:

Perimeter fencing 

  • Establish a secure perimeter around the worksite using see through materials like chain link fencing, so you can easily see trespassers.
  • Ensure fences are a minimum of 8 feet high with well spaced posts, matching the width of the narrowest unit in the equipment fleet.
  • Use barbed or razor wire at the top of fences to further deter unauthorized access.
  • Regularly inspect the fencing and promptly repair any damages.

Warning signage

  • Display prominent “Warning” or “No Trespassing” signs along the worksite perimeter, clearly outlining the laws violated and the penalties of trespassing.
  • Register each unit on a nationally recognized database used by law enforcement and attach a visible decal warning potential thieves about the equipment’s registration.

Controlled entry gates

  • Equip gates with a padlock that is permanently attached to the fence for secure access control.
  • Whenever feasible, limit the worksite to a single entrance/exit point.

Strategic lighting

  • Position lights along the edge of the property to illuminate the jobsite.
  • Conduct regular inspections of the lighting and promptly replace any burnt out bulbs.


Theft prevention through equipment security

Distinct markings on equipment

  • Use a welder to engrave your company name on critical equipment parts, such as buckets, booms, and frames.


Anchor your equipment

  • Safely secure unattended on-site equipment using sturdy chains or cables.
  • Opt for brightly colored chains to act as a visual deterrent.


Immobilize machines

  • Remove hitches on towed equipment or trailers.
  • Take off tires from equipment that you don’t use regularly.
  • Install equipment theft prevention devices that disable fuel, hydraulic, and/or electrical systems on higher value machines.
  • Consider removing wires and/or batteries from larger equipment.
  • Install GPS tracking devices on larger equipment for added security.

Keep tight records

If a machine is stolen in spite of your theft prevention precautions, having well maintained records will make it easier for law enforcement to recover it. Providing authorities with information on your inventory and individual machines will help them work faster, so they can recover the equipment, and you can get back to work sooner. It’s important to keep the following information on file:

  • Detailed inventory of all your machines, including year, manufacturer, model number, and serial number
  • Up to date photos of all your equipment
  • Records of all modifications, like changing the paint color


If you have any questions about equipment theft prevention, contact our team today!

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