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Why are Forklifts a High-Theft Item?

Forklift theft is a crime you almost never hear about. Yet it occurs a lot more than you might think. According to the National Equipment Register, more than 330 forklifts are stolen every year in the U.S. And these are just the ones that get reported. There are no statistics for stolen forklifts that go unreported, so the actual number is unknown. Industry experts expect the true rate of forklift theft is much higher.

The financial impact of stolen forklifts is also higher than you might expect.

Forklift prices start at around $15,000 for low-end models. They can go up to $100,000 for top-end models. The average forklift costs $30,000 to $45,000. At those prices, even one forklift theft can put a real financial burden on a business.

There are no exact figures on the total cost of forklift theft. But it’s not hard to estimate. Let’s assume an average cost of $30,000 per theft. Then multiply it by 330. This comes to almost $10 million a year for stolen forklifts! It’s easy to see why the industry considers it a serious problem.

Why People Commit Forklift Theft

Forklifts are a high-theft item for a number of reasons, such as their value. Forklifts can bring a good resale price on the used equipment market. This makes them a hot target for those needing a forklift but don’t have the funds to buy a new one. Forklifts are also stolen because people use them to commit other crimes. In fact, this is the most common reason for forklift theft. Forklifts are often stolen to aid other criminal acts. These include ATM theft, material theft, vault theft, and other crimes that require lifting a large amount of weight.

Some forklifts are stolen by dishonest or disgruntled employees. Most often, forklifts are stolen by those who have no connection to the owners or company. For example, people have been arrested for stealing a forklift to steal a heavy custom stove. Others have stolen forklifts for the purpose of causing property damage. Some people steal a forklift just for the thrill of taking it on a joyride. (Those people are often under the influence of alcohol at the time.)

Lax site security also contributes to forklift theft. On large, busy job sites, it can be easy to drive off with a truck without getting noticed. Plus, most who steal a forklift don’t get caught.  Add up all these factors and forklifts can be a tempting target for someone wanting to steal a truck.

Low Recovery Rates for Stolen Forklifts

No matter the reason behind the theft, recovering stolen forklifts is a challenge. Often, if a forklift is recovered, it has been severely damaged. This makes it useless, or requires costly repairs. The problem is, very few stolen forklifts are recovered.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) tracks the number of large equipment thefts and their recovery rates each year. In general, large equipment theft recoveries average 21%. For forklifts, it’s a meager 5%. Of the 330 forklifts stolen every year, only 16 are returned to their owners.

Forklift recovery rates are low for many reasons. Owners often don’t report the theft as soon as it occurs. Others don’t report it at all. This gives thieves ample time to unload a stolen truck without getting caught. Companies sometimes don’t keep accurate ownership records. Or they give incorrect information to the police. This makes it easier for thieves to sell stolen trucks.

Using Forklift Security to Reduce Theft

Forklift security starts with maintaining a secure storage area. This includes using video cameras to record everyone who comes and goes. Having an internal security committee can also help reduce the chances of theft. Keeping an eye on your trucks when no one is around will lessen the risk for a theft.

To increase the odds of recovering a stolen forklift, report it to the police right away. Be sure to provide the correct information. To make sure you have it on hand:

  • Register the truck’s serial number in the National Equipment Register (NER) database when you buy it
  • Keep accurate lists of all your trucks, including PIN/serial numbers
  • Give the list to the police, your insurance company, and NER as soon as a truck is stolen

Practicing forklift security can’t prevent all forklift theft. But it doesn’t take much time or effort. It will reduce the odds of a theft occurring. And it will greatly improve your chances of recovering a stolen truck.

Practicing Forklift Safety

No business wants to have their forklifts stolen. But it’s not as bad as having a forklift accident, especially when it results in serious injury or death. That’s why forklift training for all who handle forklifts is so important. Nobody does online training better than (FLC).

Our fast, affordable online courses comply with all OSHA safety guidelines. They can be taken anywhere you have an Internet connection. And they only take about an hour to complete. When you complete the course, you can instantly print your certification card. We even offer free renewal training, which OSHA requires every three years.

Keep your trucks safe by practicing forklift security. Keep your employees and your business safe with forklift training from FLC.

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