by Courtney DeMilio
June 26, 2012

True accounts of stolen and recovered construction equipment.








True accounts of recovered construction equipment and tips to protect your investments.


Construction equipment theft is a costly and disruptive issue resulting in $300 million to $1 billion in losses each year. Owners risk the loss of highly expensive construction equipment and the cost of business downtime.

Professional thieves usually steal construction equipment—they see this as a low-risk, high-reward proposition.


True Crime: Stories of Construction Equipment Theft


The stories below illustrate the vulnerability of construction equipment.


Aircraft Aids in Recovering $500,000 in Stolen Construction Equipment

On Feb. 1, 2012, workers arrived at a jobsite outside of Phoenix, Ariz., and discovered that a semi-truck and flatbed trailer loaded with two excavators had been stolen. Both excavators were equipped with a vehicle recovery system. The workers reported the crime to police, and the police entered the stolen equipment information into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) police computer, which automatically activated the transponder concealed in the equipment.

The next day, a California Highway Patrol airplane equipped with a police tracking computer began picking up the silent homing signal from the stolen excavators. The aircraft tracked the signal for 20 miles into Arizona, and the Arizona Auto Theft Task Force (RATTLER), received an alert. The task force followed the security system’s signals to a remote mining location southeast of Quartzsite, Ariz.

Detectives executed a search warrant, and with the assistance of several investigators from both California and Arizona, they recovered the following stolen equipment: two excavators, two water trucks, two trailers, a truck, a dump truck, a lowboy trailer, a loader, a light tower, a skid steer and a towable generator—the cost of this equipment combined was more than $500,000.


Assets Valued at $1.5 Million Recovered from Chicago Chop Shop

Earlier this year, a 1996 Caterpillar backhoe equipped with a vehicle recovery system was reported stolen from an unsecured construction site outside of Chicago, Ill. Within minutes after the report had been filed and the system automatically activated, officers from the Chicago Police Department began picking up the silent signal coming from the Caterpillar.

The signal led authorities to a warehouse where they discovered a bustling chop shop. They recovered 60 stolen cars, two motor homes, two tractors, six pieces of construction equipment and several motorcycles. The total value of the recovery was estimated at $1.5 million.