Snow removal equipment theft Email
Written by Kim Jewell   
Tuesday, March 07, 2023 02:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

 Snow removal equipment theft

How to protect your investment 

By Kimberly Jewell

Over the past few years, advance planning has gotten more complicated for companies providing snow and ice management services for commercial properties. Planning goes beyond making sure you have the appropriate equipment necessary to clear a site. It’s now critical to consider equipment placement and security during the winter season 

At Snow Management Services (SMS), we spend months planning all aspects of servicing clients, and part of this process includes what equipment is staged on client properties. We learned the hard way that this is a “double edged sword.” There are cases where equipment must be on a site ready to work, but we cannot make it too accessible or convenient for the thieves, as all they require is opportunity.  

Theft now more frequent and better planned 

I have had the occasion to discuss strategies with colleagues in the industry, Matt Harmon, owner at Denver Commercial Property Services, (DCPS), as well as Todd Lunde, operations manager with Martinson Snow Removal Inc. and one thing is certain, there is no sign that the thieves are getting weary. Lunde relayed, “Up until the last three to four years it seemed like you would hear of one or two items being stolen during the seasonhowever, now it seems you hear about something almost weekly.”  

One of the top ticket items are trucks, and Harmon states, “Unfortunately, if actually recovered, nine out of the 10 times the vehicles are totaled and sent to the scrap yard. 

Plows, sidewalk equipment, skid steers and attachments are hot ticket items for thieves,” Lunde also indicates. 

Each of our companies  SMS, DCPS and Martinson’s have experienced theft in their yards as well as at clients’ sites.  

Focus on defense strategies 

It’s an unfortunate reality, but critical we do all we can to protect our investments. To reduce theft, here are some of the best defensive strategies to implement 

  • Install GPS units in not only trucks, but all equipmentTechnology these days offering access via mobile apps or text notifications 

  • Set up surveillance at locations  cameras and/or motion sensors.  

  • Install alarms on equipment.  

  • Conduct security survey of yard and buildings to see if any vulnerable access points. 

  • Move highly targeted equipment into secure areas of the yard, or to containers if stored at properties 

  • Create awarenessEnlist in the help of property managers and engineers on sites where you store equipment and ask for assistance in monitoring equipment.  

  • Check the equipment storage areas regularly, especially between storms or if there is a lag in snow clearing events. 

  • Do not leave anything attached to containers, lock box with keys etcInstall heavy duty locks. 

  • Perform random equipment checks at your facility or where equipment is staged, creating more activity and less of a pattern of timing for thieves to monitor. 

  • Fence the areaCriminals want to get in and out quickly without drawing attention.  

  • Keep an accurate inventory of all equipment, including photos, makes, models and serial numbers.  

  • Do not give out gate/yard/container codes to any unnecessary employees or contractors.  

  • If using codes on locks, change them frequently.  

  • Purchase skids with keypad lock outs.  

These thieves are professionals 

Some of the theft is certainly due to opportunityGas being siphoned from parked trucks; tarps being stolen from chemical piles, ice melt stolen from pallets are random acts of vandalism primarily from homeless folks, that are now not just downtown but throughout the Metro Area. Yes, make no mistake, in this business our actions are being monitored day and night by professional thieves 

In December 2022, just a few months ago, contractor for Snow Management Services had a container staged with equipment on a client property for speedy access during snow events. Mid-November, before the Thanksgiving holiday, professional thieves visited the siteIn daylight hours, with surveillance cameras monitoring, they drove an empty flatbed truck into the parking lot and drove out with a trailer loaded with snow operations equipment. There were no distinguishing markings physically on the truck or trailer, nor license plates on either, and to date the thieves have not been apprehended, nor any equipment recovered. Total loss in excess of $100,000 happened in a matter of five minutes!  

Be covered as best you can 

The snow and ice management industry is already impacted with higher general liability insurance premiums, due to the risk factors that come with our servicesIt is therefore important we do all do we can to protect our fleet of trucks under our automobile insurance, and small equipment on our inland marine insurance policies to combat theft. If we are not proactive, the losses we suffer in the instance of theft, filed against our insurance carriers could result in increased premiums as well. Imagine suffering a $100,000 loss multiple times, finding yourself literally out in the cold with unaffordable premiums or an insurance carrier no longer interested in insuring you.  

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