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5 Tips to Keep Thieves From Impacting Your Bottom Line

John Deere equipment in traffic

Maintenance tips tend to focus on the benefits of regular fluid changes, or how preventative maintenance can save you money over the long run. But the very real problem of theft and vandalism costs its victims money, too – in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars a year. Fortunately, following these common-sense tips can help you avoid this nuisance.


  • Mark all your equipment – permanently – with your company's name. Also, engrave saws, tools, and other portable equipment to help law enforcement identify them if they are stolen.

  • When employees leave the work site at the end of the shift, be sure they use the locks and other security devices already built into your equipment. Turn off master switches, take the keys, and lock the doors. Additionally, lock fuel, oil, and engine compartments to prevent tampering. Add locks if they weren't installed at the factory.

  • Every morning, inspect equipment for signs of tampering prior to startup, such as contaminants around fuel and fluid fill areas.

  • Make the work site as secure as possible. Use private access to timber sites when possible. Restrict vehicle access overnight by placing a drag of trees across the entrance. For longer-term security, consider using boulders, a temporary dirt berm, or a lockable gate to stop traffic. If the work site is adjacent to a well-traveled road, rely on the terrain or standing trees to hide your equipment from would-be thieves and vandals.

  • Don't leave equipment unattended in an unsecured location for extended periods of time. During weekends, move service and logging trucks to a secure, off-site location. If possible, check on the status of equipment during off days. In high-risk environments, consider the value of having someone stay at the work site to keep watch.


Technology can help, too. Consider using motion-activated cameras to record movement in and around the work site. Signage on equipment indicating video surveillance will also serve as a deterrent to vandals.


Telematics can also be a useful tool in guarding against theft and vandalism. For example, JDLink™ from John Deere is factory installed in all full-tree forestry machines. JDLink can provide curfew and geofencing protection for your equipment, alerting you by text message or email if a machine is turned on or moved outside of a predefined area or specified time. In several instances, JDLink's tracking software has enabled law enforcement to recover stolen equipment.


For example, at a work site in Miami, the crew arrived one morning to find that one of their four machines was missing. Using JDLink, they could determine that it had been taken at 2 a.m. that morning. A short time later, a JDLink customer service representative found the machine just 45 miles away. The police were then notified, and the machine went from stolen to recovered – and back at the job – in under 48 hours.


A single act of theft or vandalism can wipe out the profits from weeks of hard work, so it's well worth the time – and investment – to make your equipment as secure as possible.