U.S. criminals finding creative ways to steal construction equipment

The construction equipment sector is expected to increase 12% from 2016 to 2026. There are dozens of industries that rely on quality pieces of equipment to ensure productivity and efficiency. Unfortunately, there are plenty of criminals out there that are hoping to take advantage of construction firms, farm owners, and other organizations and steal these valuable pieces of machinery.

Approximately 87% of farms across the United States are owned and operated by either individuals or families. These farmers’ livelihoods are solely reliant on their crop production — so if their equipment is defunct or taken from them, they will struggle in many aspects of life.

Whether it’s family-owned farmland or construction and agricultural organizations, thieves are coming up with creative and sly ways to steal valuable construction and agricultural equipment across the country.

According to This Week, an excavator worth approximately $65,000 was stolen from a business in the 7400 block of Martello Way. Excavators, which can weigh anywhere in between 3,790 pounds to 188,716 pounds, are used across the United States for various construction and agricultural purposes. Delaware County Sheriff report that the valuable equipment item was steel between 7 p.m. on July 30th and 11:50 a.m. on August 2nd. No arrests have been made and the theft remains under investigation.

Additionally, According to KAAL TV, $20,000 in construction equipment was stolen from an actual construction site in Olmsted County. A construction crew working for Elcorr Construction arrived at work on Monday morning (August 13th) and noticed that $20,000 worth of tools and equipment were stolen from an on-site trailer. Construction employees added that a Honda generator was also taken from the trailer. The company is still working on a list of missing items and an investigation is ongoing.

Unfortunately, these criminals aren’t just sneaking onto construction sites at night and walking out with tools and equipment. They are finding extremely creative ways to do so.

According to QNS, two 27-year-olds created an elaborate identify theft scheme to rent and sell construction equipment in New York City.

Tanisha Ortega and Dominique Corley were arrested after allegedly using stolen identities to rent construction equipment from department stores and sell them on the streets. The two even rented a forklift from RP Rentals and sold it on the streets.

A criminal complaint provided by the Queens District Attorney’s office stated that a woman who identified herself as Rachel Walker called RP Rentals in early May and asked to rent a forklift. The rental agreement was completed and the forklift, valued at more than $3,000, was delivered to a Bronx address. The woman provided a phone number and credit card number that was charged $1,194 for a one-week rental. After a week, RP Rentals went back to the location to pick up the forklift but no one was there and the forklift was missing.

The same woman, using the same name, tried to rent another valuable piece of construction machinery (a Bobcat) in late June, but the owner of the store did not charge the credit transaction.

Corley is currently being held on $25,000 bond (or a $10,000 cash bail), and Ortega is being held on a $20,000 bond (or a $10,000 cash bail).