The business’s nature means landscaping companies often have a considerable amount of essential, high-value equipment — large equipment designed to be pushed or wheeled and smaller landscaping equipment that is easy to carry. Which, unfortunately, means the landscaping business is a prime target for theft.
You can minimize the risk of loss — both in terms of equipment and downtime due to missing landscaping equipment — and help secure your livelihood with the following tips. Keeping your tools out of the hands of would-be thieves keeps your business running and your budget on track.
Secure the property where trucks are stored
The first step to prevent landscaping equipment theft is making sure the property where equipment is stored, whether it be at your place of business or your home. Keep vehicles in plain view instead of parking them in an obscured area.
- Install motion-sensing lights around the perimeter to brightly illuminate the parking or storage area. Well-lit areas aren’t as desirable to thieves if passers-by easily see them.
- Put up a gated fence to limit access to the property.
- Purchase a security system with motion detectors and video cameras to continuously monitor after-hours movement.
- If you are comfortable, employ a trusted canine to patrol the fenced lot. A guard dog on site quickly dissuades intruders.
Secure large landscaping equipment
Large landscaping equipment comes with hefty price tags, making it a target for thieves. Secure it using one (or more) of these methods to keep it from getting stolen.
- Keep trucks locked when not in use, regardless if you are on the job or parked after business hours.
- Unhook trailers from trucks at the end of the day. Use hitch locks on all trailers to prevent someone from quickly hitching to them and driving away with all of the contents.
- Enclosed trailers can be outfitted with trailer alarms. Once activated, they go off if the doors open. Models are available that are controlled via a smartphone app, sending a notification once set off.
- Install engine activation sensors on any motorized equipment, especially costly equipment like backhoes, tractors, and skid steers. When started during off-hours, an alert is sent to your smartphone or the security company monitoring the parking lot. Once activated, some sensors trigger the engine to shut down, and it remains disabled until a unique passcode is entered.
- Instead of using engine activation sensors, you can use steering wheel locks on equipment with steering wheels.
- When storing large equipment for extended periods, especially over the winter, el locking devices are useful for landscaping equipment stored for the winter.
- Mount GPS tracking devices on your large landscaping equipment. They can be wired discretely to deep-cycle 12-volt batteries and draw minimal current. The tracking devices can go weeks, if not a month, before needing a charge.
- Keyless ignition devices require the operator to enter a unique passcode to start the engine. Depending on the model, users may be able to set time constraints when engines can be started. Specific models also have wireless technology that alerts a contact person via a smartphone app when the engine starts.
Secure small equipment
Small equipment accounts for as many thefts as larger items. While the reselling value isn’t as high, hand tools or items such as trimmers and leaf blowers are easy for thieves to grab quickly and get away with.
Securing small landscaping equipment is a simple way to minimize thefts.
- Store equipment inside a locked building when possible.
- Park trailers so it is hard to access or open the doors. An excellent way to do this is to back them up against a fence or building, with little clearance between the two.
- Purchase locking cages for open trailers or metal tool boxes for truck beds to store small equipment.
- Add distinctive markings or engravings to tools in an inconspicuous place. This prohibits the reselling of stolen items.
- Remove batteries from handheld equipment during long-term storage.
Never leave landscaping equipment unattended
Always keep a watchful eye on landscaping equipment when on a job site. Stay alert and never leave tools unattended, even for a short time.
Consider job locations
When at all possible, avoid taking jobs in high-risk theft areas as a precaution. If you or your crew members are working in an area where landscaping equipment is frequently stolen from trucks or trailers, re-evaluate the job or up security measures.
Train employees in theft prevention
Lastly, go over theft prevention steps with all employees who have access to landscaping equipment.