Wildland Fire Contractor theft is on the rise. Whether you are at a hotel for the night or safely in fire camp. Theft is the last thing you want to think about when you’re out putting your life on the line. Here are 5 tips to avoid theft this season.
Just because you work in the woods with many like-minded people does not mean you’re gear and equipment are safe. Your gear and equipment are specialized, expensive, not easy to come by and did we mention you’re out fighting an active wildfire! You don’t have time for theft.
How to avoid theft as a Wildland Fire Contractor
1. Secure Vehicles and Trailers if Left Unattended
You’ve worked a long couple of weeks, you finally get out of fire camp and are headed home for some much-needed R&R. Your group decides to stop at a hotel for the night before the long convoy home. You work in a very respected industry, no one would dare mess with your vehicles or belongings, would they? Wrong!
In September 2020, KOIN.com reported on an incident in Salem, OR, “Someone broke into a truck in Salem and stole several incendiary devices used to control wildfires last weekend in Salem”. “The theft happened overnight on Sunday while the truck was in the parking lot of the Doubletree Hotel on Weston Court.” “Police said the thief took several things out of a locked box inside the bed of the truck.”
We’ve seen several claims throughout 2020 and 2021 when theft of catalytic converters was on the rise due to the pandemic and the easy money thefts could receive from selling off the metal. Luckily, Senate Bill 803 when into place January 1, 2022, which works to stop the spike in catalytic converter thefts by limiting which metal recycling companies can buy them, creating a barrier for people selling them on the black market.
To avoid theft from items in your vehicle or trailers you must take extra security measures, especially at night. Park in well-lit areas near a hotel security camera, install alarms on your vehicle and trailer that are sensitive to touch and movement, lock-up valuables in a locked cargo trailer where items cannot easily be seen.
2. GPS Tracking
This applies mostly to larger equipment. If you can install a GPS tracker that is visible, but not easily removed you could deter a thief from driving off or loading up a piece of equipment as they will see it can be traced. In most cases you can setup the trackers to alert you on a cell phone or computer if they are being tampered with.
Case Study: An insured had a large piece of equipment, a backhoe. That was found to be stolen by a kid, who took it for a joy ride out into the woods and left it. They found it because it had a GPS tracker on it, otherwise, it would have been lost forever.
3. Lockdown Your Equipment
At night a theft is going to have plenty of time to consider how to drive off with your equipment. However, there are things you can do to make it very difficult for them to do so. Consider removing a tire or two and storing them in a locked trailer. Remove the battery and store it in the locked trailer. If these options are a hinderance for your operations, you could consider freeze control systems or ignition cut-off switches with alarms.
4. Make sure your insurance is up to date
Theft sucks! But at the end of the day, it can happen to you even if you’ve taken every possible precaution. Therefore, it’s important that your insurance is up to date to cover the tools and equipment in the event of a loss. An annual review of your operations is imperative to capturing all the new tools, hoses, gear, vehicles, and other equipment that you might have acquired since the last season.
Avoid theft! Learn more about Bancorp’s Wildland Fire Contractors Insurance Program.
Bancorp’s insurance agents are available to provide you with a free review and consultation of all your insurance coverages. Contact Us – Bancorp Insurance Call 800-452-6826
Disclaimer: This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice or in place of consultation with an attorney. Changes may occur in this area of law over time.