Protecting Equipment and Tools from Theft and Damage


In Australia, organisations in construction, mining, and oil & gas are increasingly facing a costly issue: protecting equipment and tools from theft and damage. The financial loss is significant, with high-cost construction machinery alone experiencing theft losses estimated at $650 million annually. This widespread issue not only strains financial resources but also disrupts operations, tarnishes reputations and strains inventory management teams.

The Cost of Theft: Statistics and Impact

The National Equipment Register reports that around $650 million of high-cost construction machinery is stolen each year in Australia.

This figure is on the rise, and it doesn’t account for smaller items like tools and generators. The Construction and Mining Equipment Industry Group (CMEIG) highlighted in a 2009 study that $50 million worth of equipment was stolen annually. A decade later, the numbers are even uglier, with a report from the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NMVTRC) showing a 45 percent increase in plant and equipment thefts between 2004 and 2014. The hidden costs of theft include project delays, unplanned equipment hire, lost opportunities, and increased insurance premiums, which can be devastating for small companies.

In 2023, there were 13,053 reports of stolen tools in New South Wales (NSW), with the cost of stolen power tools in Victoria alone exceeding $7 million. The most commonly stolen items include drills, power saws, angle grinders, and toolboxes.

Protecting equipment and tools from theft

Enhancing onsite security is a critical first step protecting equipment and tools from theft. Investing in quality surveillance systems with high-resolution night-vision cameras can significantly deter theft and assist police in identifying culprits. Temporary fencing around construction sites is another effective measure, as it helps to deter trespassing and theft. Additionally, installing motion-sensor security lights can discourage thieves during night-time hours. Equipping machinery with internal aerials and backup batteries ensures continuous GPS tracking, making it harder for thieves to disable tracking systems.

Implementing a clear theft prevention policy is also essential. Developing a comprehensive policy that outlines the rules and consequences for theft ensures all workers are aware of these measures. Educating employees about the importance of adhering to the policy and reporting suspicious activity can further enhance security. The key is to make your team stakeholders in this process so that they report suspicious activity and communicate theft and damages when something does go wrong so that management can take actions earlier to prevent further delays and financial consequences.

Branding and identifying equipment can also deter theft. Marking machinery and tools with your brand or a unique identifier makes it easier to track stolen items. Many companies, including Tradesales, can help with the process by adding company logos or colours making equipment identifiable at a glance. Keeping secure records of serial numbers and photographs of distinguishing marks can aid in the recovery of stolen equipment as well.

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Safety in storage

Utilising secure onsite storage is another vital strategy. Using onsite storage containers such as Tool Store or Shutdown Container for tools and materials when not in use can protect valuable items. These relocatable site solutions can be designed and supplied with a service hatch where an attendant can sign tools in and out as required and closely monitor inventory. If a containerised solution is not the correct fit for your location, then a site box or parts consolidation unit secured by a key lock or padlock might be a better solution.

Storing tools out of sight in workshops is another easily implemented strategy to deter would be thieves. Tools can be locked up in storage cabinets and lockers, adding extra security inside a facility.

Securing larger power tools with chains and padlocks adds an extra layer of protection. Ensuring toolboxes are sturdy, fixed to vehicles, and equipped with strong locks can also prevent theft.

Planning and scheduling deliveries can minimise the risk of theft. Coordinating deliveries to align with immediate installation avoids leaving expensive items unattended. Secure packaging materials should be disposed of properly to prevent advertising the presence of valuable goods onsite.

Choosing reliable partners who prioritise security is also crucial. Working with trustworthy equipment solutions partners can ensure better protection and quicker response in the event of theft. Additionally, having comprehensive insurance coverage for theft, loss, and damage can provide financial protection.

The low down on laydown yards

Open-air equipment storage, often referred to as a laydown yard, where machinery and valuable assets are left exposed to the elements without protective shelter, may appear to be a convenient and cost-effective solution. However, this practice carries significant limitations and risks that can lead to substantial financial and operational repercussions.

One of the primary concerns with open-air storage is exposure to harsh weather conditions. Heavy rain can cause water damage, leading to rust and corrosion of metal components. Over time, this can weaken the structural integrity of machinery, making it more prone to mechanical failures. Electrical systems are particularly vulnerable to water ingress, which can result in short circuits, malfunctioning, and ultimately, equipment breakdown.

Extreme heat is another detrimental factor. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can cause overheating, which may lead to the melting of critical components, damage to electrical systems, and overall degradation of the equipment. This thermal stress can accelerate wear and tear, reducing the lifespan and reliability of machinery.

Downfall from dust

Dust and debris present additional challenges. In open-air environments, equipment surfaces can become covered in dust, which can infiltrate mechanical systems and cause blockages or abrasion. This not only hampers the performance and efficiency of the equipment but also increases the frequency and cost of maintenance and repairs. Dust accumulation can also impair cooling systems, leading to overheating and further mechanical issues.

Open-air storage exposes equipment to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. UV radiation can degrade rubber and plastic components, causing them to become brittle and crack over time. This deterioration can compromise seals, hoses, and other critical parts, resulting in leaks, loss of pressure, and mechanical failures.

The combined effects of these environmental hazards contribute to the depreciation of assets. Equipment stored in open-air conditions will exhibit signs of wear and tear much faster than those kept in protected environments. This accelerated aging reduces the resale value of machinery and increases the total cost of ownership due to more frequent replacements and higher maintenance expenses.

A strategy to prevent against these risks is to store smaller parts in cages shrouded in secure PVC covers. Larger parts can be stored in containers, provided there is enough room in the yard. And machinery such as light vehicles, excavators and haul trucks can be stored under a dome to protect them from the elements.


Protecting equipment and tools from theft and damage requires a multi-faceted approach that combines advanced security measures, strategic planning, and proactive policies. Investing in quality surveillance systems, secure onsite storage solutions, and reliable partners is essential in deterring theft and safeguarding valuable assets. Additionally, implementing comprehensive theft prevention policies and educating employees on security practices can significantly enhance protection efforts. Open-air storage, while seemingly economical, poses substantial risks due to exposure to harsh weather conditions. Therefore, it is crucial to adopt proper storage solutions, such as PVC-covered cages, secure containers, and protective domes, to mitigate environmental hazards. By prioritising these strategies, organisations in construction, mining, and oil & gas can effectively reduce theft, minimise financial losses, and ensure the longevity and reliability of their equipment and tools.