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Protecting Your Equipment from Theft

Agricultural Spray Machine

When it comes to your horticultural business, odds are your biggest investment is in equipment. It’s estimated between $300 million and $1 billion worth of heavy equipment is stolen each year. And that’s not counting the smaller stuff like materials and tools—or the cost of downtime and replacement. But there are ways you can protect yourself.

It’s safe to say most thieves are looking for whatever’s easiest to take. But you can make yourself less of a target if you build a layered approach to security. It starts with some easy, inexpensive actions:

  • Write down what you have: It’s as simple as keeping a record of the serial numbers on your equipment. You’ll also be able to identify it and have it returned if it’s recovered. Be sure to keep the records of the numbers in a secure place.
  • Join a database: The National Equipment Register ( offers a free service called HELPtech. You can register any piece of mobile equipment. Almost all legitimate buyers of used equipment use the site to see if it was previously registered. If something doesn’t seem right, they often contact police.

Whether it’s at your business or a job site, you can protect your equipment just by how you store it. The main idea is to make you a less attractive target in hopes thieves will move on to easier pickings. Here are some simple suggestions:

  • Don’t give a free ride: Park your equipment off a trailer. If there’s nothing on it, there’s no reason for a thief to hook it up and drive it off.
  • Create a traffic jam: Park large vehicles in a way so it boxes the smaller equipment in and can’t be driven out.
  • Link items together: Take a chain and thread several machines together. Use a good quality lock.
  • Light it up: Thieves love the cover of darkness. A brightly lit equipment area that’s visible to anyone passing by will help keep the bad guys away.
  • Make your mark: Paint your equipment a unique color or have identifying decals. Thieves want equipment that’s not visibly linked to a business. It’s easier for them to sell.

There are also anti-theft devices you can buy. Wheel locks, control locks and immobilizers limit the functions of your vehicles and make them harder to drive off. As for higher-tech options, security systems with motion detection, cameras and alarms are available. GPS devices and LoJack also give you the ability to track your equipment. But remember, they’re really only good for recovery and do little to prevent the theft in the first place.

While you’re building a layered approach to equipment security, don’t forget about another kind of security—the kind insurance provides if something is stolen. Take time to review your insurance policies. See if your investments are covered at replacement cost or actual cash value. Learn if you have rental coverage. Find out about business interruption policies. Your Hortica specialist is ready to sit down with you and explain all the details to make sure you’re protected.

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