Equipment and Machinery, Industry Insurance, NTI

Combating the rise of MPE theft

Construction site on a city street. A yellow digger excavator parked during the night on a construction site. Houses in the background.

Insurance is crucial to safeguard your assets, but experts suggest there are measures you can take to protect them from theft – and avoid unnecessary and costly disruption to business operations.

New data from Australia’s leading specialist insurer, NTI reveals rigid trucks and mobile plant and equipment (MPE) under five tonnes are at greatest risk of theft.

Unsurprisingly, trucks, trailers and MPE in metropolitan areas, close to arterial roads, are most susceptible to being stolen – especially on Mondays, which ranks as the worst day of the week for larceny.

While insurance is a ‘must have’ to safeguard assets, experts suggest there are measures owners can take to protect their critical assets from increasingly sophisticated thieves – and avoid costly disruption to business operations.

Top tips for theft prevention

1. Store equipment in a secure location

Firstly, NTI risk engineers advise owners to ensure equipment is stored in a secure place when parked.

“Most trucks and trailers are parked up on premises, so it’s more about the site security than the vehicle itself,” says Paul Bressan, NTI Heavy Motor Risk Engineer.

The team also suggests installing barbed-wire fencing around the perimeter of the property – ideally electrified – and bright lights or motion sensor lights, and signage to alert potential thieves that the property has security systems in place.

“It’s important to understand the property’s key entry and exit points and install obstacles such as drains at the key points to make it harder for thieves to get in and out,” Bressan says.

He also advises operators to install a CCTV system – ideally one monitored remotely 24/7.

“We rarely see theft from larger carriers as they tend to have CCTV on site and after-hours security,” he says.

“Smaller carriers tend to rely on just fencing and maybe CCTV surveillance.”

Additionally, Bressan urges owners to store spare keys securely.

“A lot of carriers have a lock box on the side of the building for contractors coming in and out that can be easily accessed. They’re pretty easy for thieves to break into,” he says.

For MPE located off site, NTI Risk Engineers suggests investing in metal vandal covers, which are used to encase the MPE when not in use and inhibit entry.

2. Install tracking devices

Bressan also recommends owners fit antitheft devices, such as GPS tracking systems on trucks, trailers and MPE.

While newer equipment comes standard with fleet management software, older models will need a system retrofitted.

In addition to vehicle immobilisers such as wheel locks, shut-off systems, ignition locks and battery switches, Bressan suggests using lock-out tags on trailers to protect cargo from theft.

“With larger trucks, thieves tend to break into the vehicle – there’s less chance of the actual vehicle being stolen, so the more security measures the better,” he says.

“If it means it takes longer to break into the vehicle, it can make a difference.”

3. Document what you’ve got

Bressan believes asset registers are “a must”.

These list all company assets, as well as location, ownership, and condition information. They should also include information about maintenance and repair activities, inspection schedules, barcodes, models, and other relevant notes.

This information can be saved in a piece of software, a database, or a Word document; but it must be accurate and kept up-to-date to serve its purpose.

It’s also worth considering micro-dot asset identification systems, which mark each asset with a unique code recorded on a secure database and matched with other asset and ownership identifiers such as VINs (Vehicle Identification Numbers).

This helps law enforcement identify, trace, and return stolen equipment.

4. Hire out with care

Lastly, owners should have robust checks and balances in place when hiring out MPE.

NTI has detected increasingly sophisticated crime gangs targeting MPE, especially around Sydney.

There’s evidence of people creating fake companies, hiring equipment, paying the first couple of invoices in cash, and then all of a sudden they immobilise the GPS tracking system and disappear.

NTI recommends owners ensure they have systems in place to check the legitimacy of those they’re hiring equipment to.

To learn more, contact your insurance broker, or NTI, today. Visit NTI’s Yellow Cover at

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