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Don’t Buy Stolen Construction Equipment

Don't buy stolen construction equipment

Only a few states in the United States officially recognize titles for heavy equipment. In most states, these documents function more like bills of sale. This often prompts the question, “Why isn’t there a national equipment database similar to what we have for vehicles? Such a database could facilitate the recovery of stolen machinery and simplify the process of verifying the legal ownership of equipment.”

Cost of Equipment Theft: Construction equipment theft costs the industry between $300 million and $1 billion annually in the United States alone. (Source: National Equipment Register)

Keep Your Construction Equipment Safe

Did you ever think the construction equipment you’re buying could be stolen? It’s very unfortunate in today’s world there are people out there who are so desperate they’ll do anything to get some cash in their pocket. Yes, this includes stealing heavy equipment like excavators, skid steers, and backhoes. All it takes is a desperate thief to enter your property at the late hours of the night, pull up their truck, and within minutes they could be gone with tens of thousands of dollars. If your equipment is kept on a flatbed trailer, all they need to do is hitch up and ditch out.

Most Targeted Equipment: Heavy equipment such as backhoe loaders, skid steer loaders, and excavators are among the most frequently stolen items due to their high value and portability. (Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau)

Construction Equipment Theft is on the Rise!

Our economy has been improving and with a better economy comes with more construction. Construction business has been increasing and especially during the summer months when the weather is ideal. After time passes, some of these stolen goods will pop up on the market. Some thieves wait for things to cool down, and may decide to hold on to the stolen property and look to unload it on an unsuspecting buyer months later.

Impact on Business: Equipment theft can significantly impact construction businesses, causing project delays, increased insurance premiums, and additional expenses for replacement or repair. (Source: GoCodes Tool Tracking Software)


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7 Questions to Ask When Buying Used Equipment

Before buying used equipment, you’ll always want to speak to the seller and have a few interviewing questions before making any time or monetary commitment to the seller. Have your questions ready before calling. If you ever purchased a used vehicle before, the questions you’ll want to ask are very similar.

  1. How long have you owned this equipment?
  2. Where did you purchase this equipment?
  3. If they bought the equipment from a dealer, ask them if they have the paid invoice and/or the information on the dealer so you can do your due diligence later.  
  4. If they purchased this from a private party seller, ask if they have the seller’s contact info so you can do your due diligence later.
  5. Ask the condition of the equipment, if it has damages and if it’s in good working order.
  6. You should also ask if there is still a warranty on the equipment and if they hold the original paperwork on the warranty.
  7. Question the seller why are they selling. This question might open the conversation and lead to other helpful information that’ll help you make the decision if you want to take the next step and proceed to inspect it.

Don’t be a Victim to Buying Stolen Construction Equipment

As a finance company, we take extra precaution when financing used equipment that holds no titles. In our industry, we refer to this type of equipment as, “non-titled equipment.” As you may already know, most construction equipment like excavators, bulldozers, and skid steers do not have titles. Proof of ownership can be tough, but we do have ways that can check to see if the seller is the truegenuine and rightful owner. Whenever we finance used equipment that is non-titled, we require the seller to provide proof of ownership. This can be done several ways:

  1. Proof of original purchase documents. If the seller purchased from a dealer, this would consist of the paid invoice and a copy of the payment the seller made to the dealer. If the seller paid with a cashier’s check, wire or personal check, they will also be able to get this proof from their bank. If they paid cash, then this will make things difficult, but not impossible. Sometimes sellers might not keep the best records, but if they recall the dealer who they purchased the equipment you can contact them and see if they have the copies of the client’s payment.
  2. If the seller had to obtain financing to purchase the equipment, and they recently paid it off, the seller will need to provide the payoff letter from the finance company. This shows the equipment is paid for and there is no balance due. It will possibly include a UCC lien release, as some lenders will file a UCC lien against the equipment financed.
  3. If the equipment is older, there’s a good chance the seller may not have those documents and there’s a good chance the dealer or finance company is no longer in business. Don’t worry, they still have other options, such as tax returns & insurance policies.
  4. If the seller can provide an older insurance policy or a previous year tax return with the Depreciation Schedule that shows their equipment, year, make, model and serial number this will at times also satisfy the underwriter. Most thieves wouldn’t insure a stolen piece of equipment, nor would they depreciate it and list it on their tax returns, right?


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How to Prevent Theft on Equipment

  • If you have finally decided to pull the trigger and purchase a used piece of equipment, you’ll want to protect your investment. Here are some tips on what you can implement to prevent the theft.
  1. Install a GPS tracking device. There are several units on the market that operate on battery and/or ones that need power by the battery on the unit. Some are very simple to install, while others are more advanced may require an installer.
  2. Install security cameras & lights on your property where your equipment is stored when not in use. Security cameras are very affordable as of late. They can be as little as $250 for a single camera and upwards up to several thousand which would have multiple cameras and can record and store the footage.
  3. Install a kill switch to the power supply or the fuel pump. If your equipment requires a battery or fuel, you or any mechanic can install a hidden kill switch. If the thief needs to turn on the equipment to move it on a trailer, they won’t be able to do so if they can’t turn it on. So, having a hidden switch you would need to turn on before using the key can help prevent this form of theft.


Contact First Capital for Questions on Construction Equipment Financing

Hopefully, we could shed some light on what to expect from a finance company like us if you’re buying a used piece of construction equipment that holds no title. If you are still uncertain and would like to learn more, feel free to give us a call at [phone] and one of our advisors will be happy to walk you through the process. Any of our advisors can prequalify you for financing on a 5 minute call. We have financing programs for both start up businesses and existing businesses, even if you have challenging credit we have programs for everyone!

Here are just a few types of equipment we finance. If you don’t see the type of equipment you need, I am 99% sure we can finance it!

Don’t Buy Stolen Construction Equipment | First Capital Business Finance, USA

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Don't buy stolen construction equipment
Don’t Buy Stolen Construction Equipment

Our economy has been improving and with a better economy comes with more construction. Construction business has been increasing and especially during the summer months when the weather is ideal. After time passes, some of these stolen goods will pop up on the market.

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