The Editors Page: Considering theft prevention
The Editor's Page: Considering theft prevention

When I was growing up in a small town in California, we initially didn’t even have doors with locks. I can clearly remember when my father installed new door knobs with locks and I then had my own key to the house.

Today, my sister still lives in the same house and now she has steel locking doors and is about to put in a security system since some things were taken from an unlocked storage shed outside.

Even in the early 1990s, I remember visiting my in-laws in Nebraska. We would listen to a radio show called “Party Line” in the morning. Listeners would call in to tell everybody what they had for sale or if they were looking for a special item. It was the radio station’s version of classified ads.

One morning when we were visiting, a woman called in to say she had a dozen Mason jars for sale for $2. She then went on to say, “I won’t be home most of the day, but you can come in the back door to get the jars on my kitchen table and just leave the money there.”

Having lived in Los Angeles and New York, the idea that someone would announce on the radio that they won’t be home and the door is unlocked shocked me, but in this small Nebraska town, no one reacted. Someone came in, bought the jars and left the money.

I’m sure there are many equipment rental stores that have been in business for years and have regular customers they can trust. They might not even have a need for a fence around the rental yard because they are in an area where crime doesn’t happen very often.

Then there is everybody else who needs to take theft prevention seriously. In order to help readers better understand ways to manage risk, and protect their equipment and yards, we have three articles about this subject starting on page 68.

An article, written by Courtney DeMilio, senior director of national commercial sales for LoJack Corp., Canton, Mass., focuses on how thieves have become clever and ways rental stores can thwart their efforts.

For example, did you know that some thieves have figured out ways to find a tracking device on a piece of equipment, disable it and then install their own tracking device so they know best when the machine might be most vulnerable to theft? As a result of this, LoJack has developed a covert, self-powered tracking device.

Another theft trend I hadn’t really thought about before is a renter taking parts from a piece of equipment to repair their own machine and then returning the rental equipment with the faulty parts installed.

As part of our coverage, Sarah Peterson also interviewed Ryan Shepherd, general manager of National Equipment Register (NER), Jersey City, N.J., to offer insight into NER’s theft prevention services. NER has been providing equipment data and services to law enforcement, insurance companies and equipment rental professionals since 2001.

NER also has a partnership with the American Rental Association (ARA) that allows ARA members to list 1,000 pieces of mobile, off-road equipment on NER’s HELPTech database at no cost.

I also interviewed Jack DeMao, CEO of Electric Guard Dog in Columbia, S.C., which offers electric security fencing. What’s interesting is that the company does not charge anything upfront and owns the fencing it installs at its customer’s location. They ask customers to sign a three-year contract for services. That way, Electric Guard Dog is liable should anyone be injured, not the rental store. The goal, DeMao says, is to create a theft deterrent and one that usually works.

“When you come in and put up a 10-ft.-tall fence with a big yellow sign that says “WARNING! Alarmed Electric Fence 7,000 Volts,” it can scare the bad guys. Our rental customers just want to drive the bad guys away. People come to us if they are in a high-crime area or have been the focus of criminal intention. This way, you don’t have to record the theft, file an insurance claim or play cat and mouse with thieves. The thieves move on and attack a weaker operation,” he says.

Be careful out there.

Wayne Walley is editor for Rental Management, the official magazine of the American Rental Association, 1900 19th St., Moline, IL 61265. He can be reached at 800-334-2177, ext. 253, or 309-277-4253; fax 309-764-2747;