What is being done to prevent survey equipment from being stolen?

The Survey Association (TSA) has allied with SmartWater to supply a detailed analysis report to help Police follow up on any incidences of stolen equipment. These reports help prevention of stolen survey equipment. This alliance has been ongoing since 2018 and is sponsored by some of the biggest names in the industry; Leica Geosystems being one of them. TSA urges surveyors to fill in an ‘Incident Form’ with historic and recent thefts, once completed with supporting evidence (photos and/or videos) to then send it to SmartWater direct. Find out more on TSA’s website.

By supporting this effort, you are improving the system and promoting a quicker way to report stolen equipment which will benefit all members of the association. Statistics from SmartWater collected during 2019 recorded 58 incidences of theft, but Leica listed 200. The gap between the actual theft and reporting the theft needs to be reduced drastically. TSA is promoting communication with SmartWater as part of this process. The data gathered can be analysed to create a model of where or when future thefts may occur. Through forensic data analysis, SmartWater would almost be able to turn up at the scene before the theft happens, but this can only be done if data from every theft is recorded.

What should I do if my survey equipment is stolen?

You must always report any theft to the police. If for instance, it requires an emergency response you must ring 999, otherwise dial 101. You will be given a crime reference number, make sure you keep this safe, as this will help with claiming any insurance payment and obtaining any updates on the case. Report the theft to SmartWater (using the links above). Even if you’re not a member, you’re welcome to contribute to this service. You should also report it to the manufacturer, by giving them the serial number of the equipment. This will enable the manufacturer to flag this on their database, counteracting any plans to sell it.

What can I do to prevent this from happening?

There are a few things you can do to aid in the prevention of theft.

  • Be observant! Pay attention to your surroundings and look out for people who might be out of place. This is the best practice for your workplace also, not just on-site.
  • Stay with your equipment. Do your best to work in teams just in case you need to leave anything unmanned or if you need to leave any kit in a vehicle.
  • Keep your equipment secure. Lock everything away each night and out of sight.
  • Do not leave anything in your vehicle overnight.
  • Train all members of your survey team, from day one at the company. Teach them the best practices for handling and the safety of the equipment. Follow this up with regular toolbox talks on how to keep survey equipment safe on site.

As an industry, we need to do more, to have an impact. There isn’t a quick solution to fix this problem. If you fall victim to theft, make sure you report it to all TSA and SmartWater. If we continue to keep SmartWater updated with live data, there will be more chance of deterring organised criminals from stealing survey equipment. Without reporting stolen equipment, it will go unnoticed, making the survey profession an easy target, which it can ill afford now.