Have you ever had equipment stolen and how do you prevent this from happening?

Having anything stolen is a terrible experience. When it is the equipment that you make your livelihood with, it is arguably even more terrible. Surveying equipment is very valuable and, unfortunately, there seems to be a market for it that does not involve legitimate dealers or other above-board avenues of obtaining it. For that reason surveyors have to take special precautions with their equipment to prevent theft.

According to our survey, the most popular measure taken to protect equipment against theft is taking it out of vehicles at night and keeping the vehicle that it is in locked at all times. Recording serial numbers was the third most popular measure and engraving ID numbers on it and setting alarms followed. A popular response that was written in by respondents (of which there were a total of 50) was to never let the equipment out of at least one crewmember’s sight while in use. One respondent said that he concealed his GPS base station while away from it.

Just under half, 45 percent of respondents said that equipment theft is a problem in their area, while the other 55 percent responded that it was not a problem. A discouragingly large percentage of respondents have had equipment stolen in the past. Seventy-two percent (72%) replied that they had something taken, while 28 percent said they had never had anything stolen.

Of that 72 percent (36 respondents), only 14 percent said that they had recovered the equipment, while 69 percent did not recover any of it and 17 percent said they recovered some of it.

After the equipment has been taken, what is the next step? For those of you with experience in this, 72 percent said they called the police. Thirty-nine (39) percent notified local dealers, pawn shops and service centers, 11 percent notified the dealer they had gotten the equipment from and 3 percent used industry resources such as websites, newspapers, flyers, etc. None of the respondents notified the manufacturer. Some of the “other” things surveyors did were reward postings in newspapers and calls to other local surveyors to alert them to keep their eyes open for the stolen equipment.

Almost half of the equipment that was stolen was taken from the survey site, 47 percent. This is a good argument for not leaving equipment unattended, ever. Much of it was taken from a locked vehicle, 39 percent. Only 8 percent of those who had equipment stolen said it was taken from their office and 14 percent said it was taken from an unlocked vehicle. Twenty-four respondents (or 67 percent of those who said they had equipment stolen) said it was taken during the day time, while 11, or 31 percent, said it was taken at night and another 4 (or 8 percent) said they were unsure when it was taken. (The percentages to this question added up to more than one hundred because more people answered it than the number who answered positively to the question of having had equipment stolen in the past.)

Twenty-eight respondents said that the equipment was insured while 11 said theirs was not. Nineteen responded that their equipment was worth 0-$5,000; 10 said it was worth $5,000-$10,000; 7 said it was worth $10,000-$25,000; and 3 said the equipment they had stolen was worth more than $25,000.

Thirty-eight respondents were land surveyors, 2 were engineers, 9 were both and 1 was neither.