The National Insurance Crime bureau reports that equipment theft can be as high as $1 billion annually. Everything from vehicle computer systems and scanners to large pieces of construction equipment are stolen and then turned around to be resold.
Imagine not only the loss of valuable equipment from your business, but also the loss in productivity and the disruption of your regular routine because of the theft. The incident can add up to be much more of a loss than just the value of the equipment.
Before your field service business falls victim to theft, consider these points to keep your equipment safe and secured:
Common sense – make sure all of your field technicians understand that all tools, equipment and spare parts should be locked inside the vehicle until needed for a job. Even then, the vehicle should be locked again after the items are removed. If heavy equipment cannot be stored in a secured area, move it if possible. Make sure your field technicians survey their surroundings and look for any suspicious activity. If there is any doubt or concern, they should take extra precautions to secure equipment.
PIN plates – larger pieces of equipment should have a product identification number (PIN) plate attached securely. Often during thefts these plates are removed, however.
Inventory – maintain an inventory of all field equipment including computers, scanners, test devices and other tools or equipment items. The list should include any PIN plate numbers, ID tags and product descriptions. Engraving or affixing your own company identifiers is a good idea.
The Market – unfortunately there is a substantial market for stolen equipment. The best way to reduce theft is to remove the market – do not purchase stolen equipment. Look for tell-tale signs such as missing PIN plates, unusually low prices, and cash-only transaction requests.
Backups – Your mobile devices in particular can be ideal for thieves. Make sure they are backed up on a regular basis, and minimize the amount of data that is actually kept on the device itself. Using a cloud based software application can help greatly in keeping your data secured.
Electronic trackers or remote wipe applications – whenever possible your electronics should be password protected and also have a remote wipe application installed. If a smart phone, tablet or laptop is stolen the remote wipe can be triggered through a secured login and the device can have all data removed from it. Heavy equipment or vehicles can have stolen vehicle recovery devices in place that will power off the equipment and provide tracking information for the police.
Prepare – make sure your field technicians and your managers go through some mock scenarios and training in order to prepare for any potential thefts. Depending on your business policy, you may instruct your employees to call the office before contacting police. You may also have a policy not to pursue criminals if they are caught in the act. Make sure everyone understands your policies and what to do if items are stolen.
The safety of your field technicians should be at the top of your business priorities. Also the substantial investment in your equipment and technology should be protected to keep your business running smoothly.