View Full Version : To lock or not to lock ... what was the question?

09-30-2000, 02:14 PM
A few years back, we had our tanaka edger stolen from the bed of the pickup(in a decent area of town) ... being the naive souls we were, we thought that it would be ok to just leave it there .. Since then, a few things have changed. EVERY piece of equipment is locked down and must be manually unlocked each and everytime we want to use it (with the exception of the Dixie Choppers and Bunton walk behind). It has recently become apparent to me that ALOT of people are just leaving their equipment out (next to their trailer, unlocked in their trailer, up on a lawn, etc..). I'm curious (if you do this) .. do you not worry about the fact that people want to turn your career tools into quick cash? You turn your back for a just a moment and ---BAAMMM--- .. 450 bux down the toilet. Is it that you just never thought about this? Or, do you feel secure enough in the area that you just don't care? Thanks.


09-30-2000, 02:26 PM
I lock down my equipment or at least keep it out of sight.

It is not just the area or the people, it is the delivery drivers who will take stuff and you may never even have noticed them come in and leave.

I'm not talking about the USPS or UPS, it's the no name no brand vans and trucks, rentals and leases.

mdb landscaping
09-30-2000, 03:09 PM
i have a trimmer trap and a backpack rack that allows me to lock up the equipment. i dont usually lock it but i keep worrying when im in the backyard of a house that someone could just wheel up along side the truck and take something. i may start locking it after hearing this. i recommend trimmer traps for equipment.

09-30-2000, 03:22 PM
Have been in this business for over 10 years and only know of one instance of theft in this town. And that was a backpack blower that was left sitting in the parking lot of the local mower shop. (he might as well of put a "steal me" sign on it) What's worse is that most of my competitors not only leave there equipment unlocked, but also leave the keys in there unlocked truck! I guess I just live and work in an honest area.

09-30-2000, 03:49 PM
I know a few guys that have had blowers and trimmers stolen, and in one occurance a guy went into a burger place just long enough to get his lunch (maybe 5 minutes) and when he came out his blower, trimmer and 21" mower were gone. That's a quick two grand out the window. I have the jungle jim gear caddy and keep everything locked up most of the time depending on the neighborhood and how long I'll be out of sight of my trailer. I'll never leave it in a parking lot of a store or resteraunt out of sight, because it's too easy for someone to pull up next to it and very casually act like it is their stuff and never look suspicious while unloading it. In my opinion it's not worth taking a chance.(Did't mean to make such a long post)


09-30-2000, 04:18 PM
It only takes a second for you to use the locks, about the same amount of time it takes a thief to take it.

True story:
A guy in memphis had been taking trimmers to a pawn shop for the cash. He had taken over 80 in 6 months to the same pawn shop (nobody seem to think this strange). Finally somebody got wise somewhere and busted this dumba$$. Makes you hope to run into this fool trying to get one, needs a good old fashion a$$ woopin'.

09-30-2000, 05:01 PM
I lock my rack every time I leave sight of it. It really isn't any trouble to lock and unlock because it's become a habit. My 21" Lawn Boy is also padlocked on my trailer. When I leave the truck parked somewhere (lunch, shopping, etc., I always lock the gate on the trailer too. I do this no matter what part of town I'm in.

I've had my rack completely emptied while sitting in my driveway one night, but that was due to a cheap and easy $10 lock. I now use $20 hardened alloy, Master locks on everything.

It's not only the loss of the price of the equipment, but the emotional stress and inconvenience of having to go replace something.

09-30-2000, 05:40 PM
I really want to hear from people who DON'T use the locks! :)


09-30-2000, 05:47 PM
When I cut my large community open areas I lock everything. When I cut Mrs.Customer's lawn and the trailer is in sight, I don't lock every thing up.

09-30-2000, 05:52 PM

That makes sense, but I can easily see 2 guys driving up while yer in the backyard, one getting out and grabbing something, and then driving away in the blink of an eye. Seems like a silly risk, if you ask me. Thanks for yer reply.


SJR Lawncare
09-30-2000, 05:54 PM
Ok, I dont lock anything up, I dont even take the keys out of my truck while Im working. Ive never had anything stolen.....Lucky maybe,,but now Im reconsidering....Thanks for starting this post....Will make us think twice!


09-30-2000, 05:57 PM
stick--I think I'd lock down that lazer. or else I'd park the bunton behind it....;)


09-30-2000, 06:00 PM

You don't take your keys out of your truck!?!? Wow. That is REALLLLLY asking for trouble .. in less then a minute, you could really be up a creek without a paddle. Imagine coming out of someones yard and seeing .. well, nothing. No truck, no trailer .. ugh. I don't even want to think about that one! Thanks for the reply.


Eric ELM
09-30-2000, 06:03 PM
Locks just keep the honest people honest. I had my 24' enclosed trailer broken into and they took 2 Shindaiwa T-27's, Shin Chain Saw, and a 2 cycle roto tiller. I had hardened Master Locks on the trailer, but a good set of bolt cutters will get you into most anything it seems. Now I keep everything in the garage at night. On the job, we make sure someone is always in the front of a home, so we can keep an eye on things. If we go in a resturant, we look up and park where we can see it from where we are eating.

09-30-2000, 06:21 PM
I run a small open trailer. Where I work, the city police constantly ride around slow just patroling. I'm sure this is why it's been years since the dirt bags have stung me. No, I don't lock up to often, but allways at night.
I did wake up one morning to hear my rig pulling out of my driveway. By the time I got in my wifes truck, they were gone. Had it backed in up to the house. That way they couldn't get the ramp down.( enclosed). They used a dent puller to pop out the ignition. It was laying in the floor when we found the truck and trailer. Guess where? Well, lets skip that issue. They wern't lawn people, they left two gallons of roundup in the trailer.

[Edited by Bobby on 09-30-2000 at 09:33 PM]

09-30-2000, 07:57 PM
Hey Bobby.
I don't think that I would rely on random police driving around as my first line of defense. It *could* scare the crooks away, or at least make them more hesitant. But, for a professional thief, not only are they fast, but .. they're professionals. They know how to do it fast and get it done without too much fuss. On the same side of the fence, as long as the cops don't stop, how is he/she to know that they don't work for the company? I wouldn't count on that working forever ... Thanks for the reply.

Take care,

09-30-2000, 08:46 PM
I keep my tools (trimmer, edger, etc.) locked in the trailer. While all of the neighborhoods that I cut are nice, I can't afford to loose 'em since most of them are new this year.

09-30-2000, 09:15 PM
Man, around here the crack heads will stand on the median at a stop light and snatch things when you stop and run in the direction you came from so you can't follow. I lock eveything, and run a heavy cable through the big mowers.

09-30-2000, 09:45 PM
I must live in a pretty good area. We lock down nothing. Actually though, we mow some bad neighborhoods and most of the people would not steal anything that is used for work. It's that allergic reaction thing, you know...work. And none of them seem to be smart enough to pawn anything.
Most of our customers are higher end but we have some metro housing complexes and things get crasy.
I have packed heat in some cases. Mostly though, my crew looks pretty bad and people don't mess around with us. The tenants are generally affraid of the landscapers as they should be in our case. I don't do background checks and it's probably a good thing, that way I don't know how many people my guys have killed in the past. I have had people work for us that would love a go sick'em command from the boss. If anything comes up missing, there is always someone watching and we'll get it back plus interest.
In 5 years nothing has ever been stolen.

09-30-2000, 10:15 PM
Hey osc...

We cut mostly high end places now (with the exception of a couple) and for us, there is still that threat.. That's cool you have a bunch of large, convict looking :) guys working for you and that may help a bit, but I'm still not entirely convinced that you are immune to the problem.. I think that the professional thieves are aware of the workers, and take precautions to avoid being seen. Sounds to me like you've been pretty lucky, so far. Take care!


09-30-2000, 11:52 PM
I don't lock anything up, I try to keep an eye on my truck, but so far nothing has been taken. I don't even lock my truck up, oh well, I'm sure I'll here about it soon as I hit submit.

10-01-2000, 12:09 AM
Locks are just another hurdle for the thieves to work around. They are functional when you're out on the job, because they add time to the theft. But look for something better than a lock for overnite. A landscaper here had his hydroseed trailer stolen from locked, fenced yard this summer. Police are sharp though - found it that day in the yard of another (shady) landscaper.

Radio Shack used to have a remote car alarm. Radio signal activated portable alarm near or on your person if car device was tripped.

10-01-2000, 01:56 AM
A neighbor of my dad bought a trailer like mine. Well last week it was stolen, the theifs had froze the cheap lock and broke it off with a sledge hammer. It was recovered 3 hours later with mim damage.

Eric I agree with your statement, but, locks keep the temptation away from some that otherwise would not consider. I use master locks bought at Grainger, very heavy lock


10-01-2000, 02:09 AM
Hey Cutter1.

I'm just curious, but why do you feel so safe? We must live in completely different worlds. I live and work in (what I believe to be) a very safe and fruitful community yet I still must deal with this problem on a daily basis. Even in the nicest areas, crime exists. What makes you untouchable?



[Edited by stick9 on 10-01-2000 at 05:12 AM]

10-01-2000, 12:21 PM
Just curious how many have not had anything stolen in relation to how many years in business.

Heard a story the other day how crooks were using online auctions to unload the stuff they rip off.

[Edited by parkwest on 10-01-2000 at 03:25 PM]

Vandora Lawn & Landscape
10-01-2000, 12:32 PM
I work out of a pick up truck with high wooden sidewalls. I keep all my easily stealable stuff up towards the cab where it can reached over the sidewall. My walk behind sits back towards the tailgate. I haven't had anything stolen. I've been doing this all year.

10-01-2000, 01:07 PM
I've been in business six years with virtually nothing locked up (though I do keep my truck keys on me at all times :) ), and have had nothing stolen.

However, I expect it all the time and take any precautions possible. I am in the hunt for a good trailer rack, and will have one before long...


10-01-2000, 03:19 PM
Theft of lawn equipment is the highest stolen item here in Charlotte per the police. Guys, remember if you have no insurance and everything is stolen you will be put of business. Even if you have insurance it can take weeks to settel a claim.

I suggest that everyone first have friends in the business, talk to your fellow landscapers. This will allow you and your new friends to watch out for each other and help out in a theft or failure.

Two years ago a friends only mower broke, I let him borrow mine so he could complete his work. Last April my truck had a leak in the turbo, was at the shop for a week, another friend in the business allowed me the use of his F250 spraying truck to pull my trailer for the entire week. Friends in the business are great. :)

10-01-2000, 06:46 PM
Hey Kirby!

Thanks. Everyone out there believes that they're invincible when this could EASILY happen and put someone out of business(as you said) .. I hope people will begin to think more about this. That's it for me!


10-01-2000, 07:17 PM
Around five yrs ago i didn't lock my equipment, i reckon i was really stupid. Then around that same period of time i had a chain saw, trimmer, compresser stole. Just one street over a pro cutter i know the same night had his entire trailor stolen. From then on i always lock all trimmers blowers saws,pruners, ect,ect I truley learned my lesson. Thanks for all the enfo i learn on this forum.

10-01-2000, 10:29 PM
It must be a Canadian thing, I never lock anything and the keys are always in the ignition. Of course anyone from around here knows that if they steal from me they will have a bunch of 180 grain 270's chasing them. I'm a pretty good shot and a light sleeper.

10-01-2000, 11:07 PM
i live in west monroe,louisiana.i don't lock my equipment-unless i am in a not so good part of town,i even leave the keys in the truck,but i think i am going to start locking stuff up,every thing is insured but would hate to have it all stolen,i guess i've just been lucky.i have several accounts you can't even see the truck and trailer from the backyard.

10-02-2000, 02:18 AM
I don't hink I am untouchable, I just don't feel the need to lock everything up. I put everything away at night under lock and key, but during the day, no locks for me. Like I said before, no problems for me, but I guess thats why we have insurance. If they want your stuff, they will get it, lock or no lock.

10-02-2000, 04:16 AM
all I can Say is LOCK IT UP and hope for the best.
The best thing is i hope u have business insurance most time this covers stolen equipment.

10-02-2000, 08:21 PM
Yeah .. but even with insurance, it could take weeks to get the cash to get the equipment .. then what do you do?


10-02-2000, 09:20 PM
Hell everyone talking about missing pieces of equipment is nothing. Down here in Austin, Houston, or San Antonio Texas they take the whole darn rig. If your lucky they will just unhook the trailer and haul it off with their truck. I am a beliver in parking where you can keep an eye on things. And I use a remote pager with Alpine alarm on my trucks. Just keeps honest people honest! We have 2/16' expanded metal cage trailers with double lock boxes stacked on front surrounded by 4.5ft sides and a locking split gate. Never been ripped off, but caught a couple of guys leaning into the bed of the truck a few times. I thank GOD for employees that look out for me and my equipment! Next year considering a enclosed trailer like Kirby's. Keeps everything out of sight and out of mind, not to mention the rain.

10-02-2000, 10:56 PM
WOW I mean WOW I never had problems like that heck my keys to my 97 F350 4wd diesel are in the truck all the time, reason cant start it without the beeper, keys wont start it I like it so if I forget my keys you still cant start as for my equipment I think we will be locking it up more often (thank) ahaid of time!!!

10-03-2000, 02:27 PM
Hello Everybody:

In 5 years nothing was stolen by strangers, had employee steal one time only.

We did not use thief display racks though? I have this idea & it worked pretty good, & it was?

Out of Site, Out of Mind!

Sorry I feel this way about the racks, but I've noticed over period of time lots of stuff, gets stolen off these racks, damage to equipment on these racks & they just flat out draw attention - all the hand held stuff right there in the open, on display.

I personally did not like the racks. Figure the time, money & effort involved in locking, unlocking, installing this stuff. I just couldn't justify it. Maybe be different if I had a lot stolen.

We kept everything inside back of truck, or inside box in front of trailer, the box had a lid on it. No problems at all. When we drove it home it was left like it was when loaded up at last job. LOL, where I lived nobody came around.

I worked in Albany, Georgia. At that time it was claimed Murder, Crime, Divorce, Unemployeed & Single parent family capital of the U.S., figuring the number of people & ratio of crimes & so forth. It has been in the Newspaper & on TV quite a few times.

10-03-2000, 08:39 PM
Great point, Grassmaster!

We haven't had to deal with employee theft .. Crazy people, yes .. theft, no. I'm wondering how you could possibly foresee this happening. I mean, you lock up all the equipment, you HAVE to give the employees a copy of the key .. (wouldn't seem paramount to have the workers always looking for you to unlock the equipment all of the time). How you could you feasibly alleviate this problem? I suppose you could ensure a positive working environment for everyone (not working too hard, some extra breaks, etc.) You could make it a point to get to know the person with whom you are working. Help create a good Boss/worker relationship. Hmm. But ... how could you GUARANTEE an employee wouldn't steal from you?! I mean, he could be the greatest employee in the world, but then .. he's late on his house payment and needs some quick cash and decides that it would be easy to nab a whip or two (without anyone knowing). Interesting.


[Edited by stick9 on 10-04-2000 at 12:09 AM]

JJ Lawn
10-04-2000, 09:01 AM
I can tell you all about locking up and about leaving keys in truck.

3 yrs ago I was in one of my better neighborhoods just finishing up a job. I was in the back blowing and helper was on side of house in sight of truck. A guy drove up in a pickup, parked behind me, got out of truck, got into mine and drove off. Stole everything I had except the bak pak blower I was using. Over $25,000 worth of equipment in truck an trailor.I had left keys on floor mat. I had 911 on phone as truck was going down street, and they still have not caught the guy. Seems that the police were looking for another truck that was stolen before mine. Yep, the one parked where mine was. The guy had to have cased me out, and found an easy mark. I learned a valuable and expensive lesson that day.

Now, I always remove my keys an put them in my pocket, I lock the drivers side door, and as soon as I get to job site the first thing I do is lower ramp. Figure if someone is going to steal again will be a little hard driving down road with ramps dowm. If I need to go into store or am out of site of truck, I always lock everything on trailor with cables an padlocks. even have locks on ramps.

So if some of you don't feel the neccesity to lock up. Well good luck. I just hope what happened to me does not happen to you. Cause it does not only happen to the other guy.


10-04-2000, 11:04 PM
What a great reply! ROCK ON!


10-05-2000, 08:51 PM
How about the lawn mowers? I'm wondering if anybody REMOVES the ignition key from their rider OR walk behind when they aren't using it (Dixie Choppers, in our case). I can't really see someone driving away on the DC, but I suppose it is possible.



10-05-2000, 09:14 PM
I do most of the time, but it's really a waste of time since all mowers use the same keys. :(

10-05-2000, 09:17 PM
No I don't take the ignition key out of my Chopper. I usually leave the key to my truck laying in the drivers seat and no I'm not going to change. THATS WHY I HAVE INSURANCE. Hell, I would love it if every bit of my equipment was stolen. My ins. policy says that I get back the PURCHASE price of the equipment (except the truck). I would have all new stuff instead of 2-3 year old stuff. And if you don't have enough cash to get a blower, trimmer, trailer, and mower while you are waiting for the claims adjuster then you are not making enough money. Sorry to tell it like it is but thats the only way I do it. Also I always pull a weedeater out of the truck and place it in an inconspicuous spot. Just in case someone wants to start trouble I know where it is. The weedeater is the ULTIMATE weapon except for a gun.

Eric ELM
10-05-2000, 09:22 PM
If we go in a resturant, I lock the trimmers and blower all together with a cable and take the mower keys.

Ray, not all mower keys are the same, but most of them are. Your mower key will only start 1 of my 3, because the Diesel DC and the Diesel JD have different keys and are both different from each other.

10-06-2000, 09:26 PM
Ive been reading this for a couple of days now,and was thinking if I had ever had anything stolen,and after much thought yes I have. Seems while traveling for my day job someone at the Charlotte Douglas Airport took a likng to my 2"drop hitch. And I didnt notice until I backed up to the Cow trailer didnt haul a load that night. Now I have a lock pin on my hitch.

10-06-2000, 10:10 PM
Just an idea for those of you who have enclosed trailers that don't go in garages; if the trailer is parked at night or ESPECIALLY if you're leaving home with the trailer unattended, PARK SOMETHING IN FRONT OF THE TRAILER! Even if the trailer coupling is locked, there are towbar devices (illegal to own) that clamp down over the tongue to allow the whole thing to be hitched up. I keep my stuff all loaded on an 18' open trailer locked up in the shop out back and it makes me leary to even leave in there when I'm gone.

10-06-2000, 10:32 PM
When I park my trailer in my driveway and it's loaded with equipment, I always chain it up. I have a coupler lock, but I bet it could be broken in a minute or less. I trust my chain more than anything.

I dug a 30" hole next to my driveway at the foundation of my house and sunk a piece of reebar bent in the shape of a hair pin with a one foot piece of ½" hardened chain attached into concrete. To this I padlock a 3' piece of the same chain and connect it to the back of my trailer.

I've tested this out myself different times, but only before I became accustomed to having the chain attached. I'd pull out the driveway and get yanked back in a hurry. The neighbors must have died laughing to see my neck jerk and see the silly look on my face, but it wouldn't let me leave and that's good.

One night I had a thief come to take my trailer thinking he could simply disconnect it from the hitch and swing it around the side of my truck. But then they found the chain and tried to dig it out of the ground. I had mulch over the concrete. Thirty inches is a long, long way to dig when you are in a hurry. My only casualty was the small cherry tree next to the truck, which they cut down because it would have been in the way to pull the trailer out to the street.

If I had it to do over I would use ½" hardened alloy chain instead. It's more expensive, but it's harder to cut. Most of the time now remember to unlock it.

10-06-2000, 10:41 PM
I don`t lock up anything except at home. Never could
leave keys in any vehicle though. It`s true though
that if someone really wants something they`ll take
it. I worked at a shop years ago that had just bought
a 700 lb. aluminum dock plate that was used to drive
hi-lo`s onto semi trailers. At the time scrap aluminum was going for about 40 cents a pound. Amazingly two guys
were able to steal this thing of a dock about 6 ft.
high in a matter of about 10 minutes!

10-07-2000, 12:27 AM
ok then ..

I suppose that removing the key to the lawnmower will only circumvent the problem of thieves who are NOT landscapers. The real lawncutters could possibly be carrying a key to the mower with them. Thanks.