Business Equipment

GPS and Telematic Technology: The Next Evolution in Theft Protection

When it comes to protecting valuable construction equipment and trucks, there are two basic approaches: prevention and recovery. The former is the favorable strategy since it significantly reduces potential damage to the asset as well as eliminates the time and effort required to chase it down once gone. Unfortunately and too often, contractors wait until something is stolen before starting to look at implementing a theft protection strategy. The goal of this article is both to educate on the benefits of asset tracking for theft protection and how it works as well as to demonstrate that when it comes to theft, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.

With industry losses exceeding $1 billion annually in the United States, equipment owners are turning to technology to curb this fast-growing epidemic. GPS tracking, one component of the broader technology named “telemetry”, is quickly becoming the innovative solution of choice. Many equipment owners are already aware of and evaluating telemetry systems on the merits of their productivity-enhancing, service management, and diagnostic capabilities. The technology has been around even longer for trucks, yielding benefits such as fuel savings, increased driver accountability, and extended vehicle life. The added bonus is the theft protection component, which any savvy fleet manager should include in their assessment of this technology. Xeos

To better understand how to combat theft with GPS and asset tracking, we first must explore why it is so easy to steal trucks and equipment by comparing and contrasting them:

1. Easy Access – Since most equipment is universally keyed, a single key starts any machine from the same manufacturer. Unfortunately any thief in the world can get these keys at a local dealership or even easier, online. Since the equipment is literally sitting on the side of the road or behind a chain link fence, all the crooks have to do is hop in and drive off. Though chain link fences once were a sufficient deterrent, thieves now simply jump over them, drive the machine through them and load the stolen equipment in the street. The average construction equipment theft takes about twenty minutes.

For trucks, the theft occurs in a matter of minutes with a quick break in and hotwire. Vehicle theft is often more brazen: we have customer stories (prior to installing a tracking solution) of trucks being stolen out of a diner parking lot while the driver was inside eating and in other instances even while the trucks idled unattended in the morning to warm up. Oceanographic Instruments And Tools | Telematics Products | Xeostech

2. Delay in Discovery – Equipment can sit for days at a time without anyone touching it, but assumed to be in the same place. Thieves are smart and will routinely steal on Friday night or over a weekend, knowing that nobody will be back to the job site until Monday morning. This gives them several days head start before the theft is even discovered.

Since trucks are an integral part of transportation, their theft typically comes to light within a few hours of their disappearance.

3. Difficulty in Recovery – Stolen equipment is easily moved out of the country or resold on the auction block to an unsuspecting buyer, yet kept whole for the most part. Organized crime rings are becoming the major players, and even worse, a number of theft organizations post the recovery rate for stolen equipment at a mere 20%.

A thief’s modus operandi with trucks, especially service trucks, is to loot the vehicle for tools and parts. Trucks have a higher recovery rate but are often found abandoned, and stripped of everything valuable. We have even seen stolen trucks used simply to commit other crimes, as getaway cars or transporting contraband.

The crooks can easily get to your assets, start them just as easily and get a significant head start. The deck is clearly stacked in the thieves’ favor, but now you have an opportunity to swing the advantage back to your side — asset tracking.

Locking it down

Prevention is the preferred strategy for protecting against theft. In addition to reducing potential damage to your asset and avoiding spending hours coordinating a recovery effort, prevention methods keep the thieves from moving your assets at unauthorized times. To implement a preventive approach, the specific facets of GPS tracking technology come into play.

Since equipment theft typically occurs after hours or on weekends when witnesses are less likely, a GPS unit will set up a curfew on your equipment at that time. What that means is that the unit will literally call your cell phone, pager, PDA or drop you an email if someone tries to start the machine or moves it during those off hours. The system can even go as far as to automatically disable the equipment from running at that time. It’s all based around your schedule of operation, and if you ever need the machine during those off hours simply login to the software and remotely lift the curfew.

Let’s say you routinely want your machines available to run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with Sunday off. At 7 PM every night and all day Sunday your machines will automatically disable themselves and call you if someone touches the key switch or manages to move the equipment. At 7 a.m., everything goes back to normal and nobody is the wiser. If you need that piece to run until 10 PM, simply log in online and 30 seconds later your machine is enabled to run. Conversely, if you know an asset will sit for a longer time or goes missing, then log in and set the curfew to disable immediately and remain disabled until you tell it otherwise. From any Internet-connected computer or PDA anywhere in the world, you are in control to shut down your assets at any time. This powerful feature is particularly useful over the long holiday weekends, when assets are sitting and thieves are on the prowl.