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Securing your equipment

Discussion in 'Stolen Equipment' started by BlazersandWildcats2009, Jul 7, 2013.

  1. Pierre2013

    Pierre2013 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,256

    I spoke too quickly when I said that I couldn't give you something specific, or precise in regards to tips on making it harder for thieves. It's been a while since I've worked with the Law Enforcement Community. There is actually a very simple method to reduce the theft of equipment by more than 90%. It is very simple, highly effective and very cheap to implement.

    All you have to do is paint your equipment.

    Let's say, for example, that you would paint your Hustler or Scag ztr a nice, bright pink. Now put yourself in the shoes of a thief. Obviously, he wouldn't be able to list it on Craiglist as is and anyone who would willingly buy a bright pink Hustler would know that he wouldn't be able to use it like that since it would attract too much attention. It would be too easy to identify.

    So our thief would have to either paint the ztr to hide your lovely pink, or drastically reduce his selling price.

    Now why would he do that when he can travel to other areas of the country and find a Hustler or Scag in its original color? Which will be an easy sell with less risk and work.

    Of course, the paint should be oil-based. I would even paint the wheels of the ztr. It will cost less than $20 in paint and it might take you 4-8 hours. But keep in mind that the longer it takes you, the longer it would take someone who steal it to try to hide your lovely pink.

    IOW, what you are doing is making your equipment not attractive to a thief. It is the same principle with making your house less attractive to burglars and sending them elsewhere.

    You do not need to paint it pink. You could use 1" tape and make stripes instead. And you could use any color you wish. But the point of the exercise is making your equipment standout, be easily recognizable from more than 100' away. You want to discourage someone from being interested in stealing it.

    With large equipment like ztr, I would say that it should reduce the probability of theft by more than 90%. With smaller equipment like trimmer and blower, it will still work, but I would estimate the reduction of probability of theft to something like 60%. Because of the smaller size, it is somewhat easier to try to hide the paint job you did. Nevertheless, it is a MUCH less attractive piece of equipment to steal.

    If your equipment is still under warranty, you should verify with your dealer that painting it will have no impact on the warranty.

    And finally, I would consider painting your equipment as one layer of protection. Additional layers of protection should take you close to 99% theft protected.
  2. GrassHoppage

    GrassHoppage LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    Painting tires actually that isn't a bad idea - easy to do too.

    I have thought about this with Power tools too.. paint stripes on the cords so it will be easily identified.

    I read about a fella who had his whole rig stolen, sickening when it is your livelihood and you've worked hard to get it. I think If I had an enclosed trailer I would go down to the local High School and ask the art teacher for their best student - hire them to paint a big company logo on my rig.

    It would serve for both advertisement and someone hauling it away would be easier to spot and remember, especially if it were a bit of a memorable painting.
  3. Pierre2013

    Pierre2013 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,256

    When I said painting the wheels, I meant the rims and on both sides. You can go ahead and paint the tires if you feel like it.

    Anything that is 'attractive' to a thief can and might be stolen. It is a very simple equation; make your equipment unattractive to a thief. Painting is cheap in supply cost (rust-oleum?) and will only require your labor. It should last as long as you own your equipment and there is no ongoing costs.

    The same principle applies to rigs and trucks. Have your truck and rigs professionally painted and it will lose a good deal of value to a thief. A well-installed kill-switch is a must on a vehicle.
  4. JeffH1

    JeffH1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 84

    Great posts, Pierre! Never even thought about some of the things you suggested! Thank you!
  5. OP

    BlazersandWildcats2009 LawnSite Member
    from Houston
    Messages: 208

    I agree. He gave an excellent idea. However, the only objection I have to that, is I'm not sure if Pierre means painting "for example", the whole ztr, or something like the wheels. I think if you painted the whole ztr bright pink, sure it would be much less attractive to the thief, and probably eliminate him touching it what so ever. However, painting the wheels, it seems the thief wouldn't mind if he has his own place or garage to hide it away for a bit. Seems like he would just paint the wheels back to a normal color.

    You mentioned the handhelds would be harder to do. I'm going to call up to the dealer tomorrow and find out about the warranty issue. That chrome/silver shaft, a thief wouldn't be able to match the paint on that thing I highly doubt without some serious work. I'm going to ask the dealer if I put about a foot orange stripe on that shaft if the warranty would still be okay. Our trimmers, etc. sit on our racks the same direction every time. I could put a orange stripe on the outside of that shaft and I think they would go on to the next stop.

    You made some very good points and gave me some good ideas. Appreciate that Pierre.
  6. unkownfl

    unkownfl LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,228

    I keep my stuff in a gated storage facility that has live on site management. Not saying it couldn't be stolen but it's insured through them for cheaper than what a policy would cost me and I have all that extra free space at the house for what 100 bucks a month.... I know this would only be ideal for a small operation 1-2 employees. I had my employee meet me at site and the put their vehicle inside once I removed my trailer.
  7. Pierre2013

    Pierre2013 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,256

    Sorry for such a late reply to your question, but I never saw your post. I might have been too busy at that time...

    Yes, when I said painting the ztr, I meant replacing everything that is, for example, yellow on a Hustler with another color. You could also paint the rims of the wheels a nice blue. The more your equipment stands out from the crowd, the less it is interesting to a criminal.

    Again, there is no absolute need to paint the whole thing, but the more time you spend, the more time a thief would have to spend attempting to undo what you have done. And therefore, the less interesting your equipment is to a criminal. And yes, it is a good idea to ask the company if painting it will have an impact on the warranty.

    The equation is very simple. If someone steals your ztr, he will either put it up for sale, or use it himself. Dismantling it for parts isn't really a viable option. This is not a car. Although it could be done, but much less likely. If you have to spend 4 hours to paint the whole thing, it means the thief would have to spend at least as much time if not more in order to try to hide your paint job.

    Why would he give himself all this trouble when all he has to do is drive some distance to steal one that has not been painted? Even dumb criminals will know to stay away, although nothing is 100%.

    The same principle also works with small equipment but not with the same degree of success. The situation is the following; if you paint a trimmer, hiding your paint job will most likely take less than 30 minutes and be an easy job to do. And since a trimmer is worth much less money, the buyer of such stolen equipment might not even think twice about the difference in appearance.

    Regarding painting your ztr, if you could include the phone number of your business in your paint job, it might help. Like painting the phone number on the rops, on the panel protecting the engine and on the deck. If there is a certain thickness of paint to your phone number, it means that even painting it over with another color will still leave it somewhat visible. More hassle for potential thieves.

    You could also engrave your phone number on the rops, deck, as well as on all your small pieces of equipment.
  8. Pierre2013

    Pierre2013 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,256

    Further to my previous post, I would like to add the following.

    1) Use a rotary tool with a cutting wheel, like a Dremel, to carve your name, phone number and geographical location on the rops, the panel that protects the engine, deck and frame of a ztr. If you can, engrave similar to trimmers and other small pieces of equipment.

    2) Use masking tape to cover up all your engraving work.

    3) Use 2 or more different (oil) paint colors to paint your large pieces of equipment, like ztr. For example, you could paint the rims of the wheels a nice green (similar to grass color). The panel protecting the engine could be painted white. The rops, a nice bright red and the frame, or part of the frame, a nice bright blue. You should vary the colors and not necessarily do exactly as I wrote above.

    4) Remove masking tape and you will have your info standing out on the original equipment color. Take pictures (from all angles) of your uniquely painted equipment.

    5) Transfer pics to the hard disk of your computer and burn the pics unto a cd. Verify pics on cd are good and keep cd in a safe location.

    6) If ever you would have the misfortune of having your equipment stolen in spite of everything you have done (above), upload the pics to this forum as well as to all other forums where you could benefit from it.

    Btw, this forum has a section for Stolen Equipment, but doesn't (yet) have a section for pictures of stolen equipment... A picture is still worth a thousand words (while a video is worth a million words ;) )
  9. TheMaster'sTouchLandcare

    TheMaster'sTouchLandcare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    I store all my equipment in my garage when not in use. Garage has a dog door and I have a large pit bull that can go in or out pretty good deterrent! When on the job I have a cable lock running through all handheld equipment in the back of my truck locked to the factory tie downs. I try not to be out of site for too long. I have only had one piece of equipment stolen prior to the cable but that was enough to screw up my day. I got back to the truck after mowing two properties side by side go to grab the string trimmer and it was missing. Needless to say I didn't have in the budget 4 hundred and some change for a new trimmer. Not a good way to learn this lesson. Always lock your tools!

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