Equipment Type

GPS Recovers AZ Landscaper's Backhoe and Skip Loader

Fast response to satellite system's theft alert returns stolen machines in hours

April 07, 2009

Robert Ronning, Controller of Ronning Landscaping Inc. of Mesa, Ariz., credits the use of a Global Positioning System (GPS), from Phoenix-based vendor GPS Fleet Management, with thwarting two thefts - one recovered a $40,000 backhoe and a separate incident bagged a thief with his $30,000 landscape loader.

“I got an e-mail alert at 3 in the morning telling me that one of our backhoes was heading on an unauthorized trip to a location far removed from the jobsite where it was parked overnight,” Ronning says. 

The backhoe's exact location was displayed on his Blackberry. He called a company employee who lived in the vicinity, and by morning the backhoe was back on the job. Time from theft to recovery: under an hour.

The landscape loader was stolen at about 6 p.m. 

“The GPS system tracked the skip loader as it left a little bread crumb trail,” Ronning reports. “I was able to call the cops in Queen Creek and tell them that the piece of machinery was traveling east on Ocotillo Road at the speed limit -- no laws broken there -- and just past over Rittenhouse. When the guy was pulled over. He told the cops he was a contractor who just assumed this was the rental machinery he had ordered -- even though it said ‘Ronning Landscaping’ on it.”

Ronning says that the theft prevention feature alone has more than repaid his investment in GPS Fleet Management,” which the company now has installed on 15 trucks and 28 pieces of heavy construction equipment. “We saved on what would have been an increase in premium had the thefts occurred, and the insurance company gave us a discount as well. When you have a lot of machines, as we do, that really adds up.”

The GPS program also keeps track of the hours of usage on each of its fleet. “We have different services set up: oil changes, 500-hour services and 1,000-hour services," says Ronning. The GPS Fleet Management boxes on machines track each unit's operating hours. "You get a sense of security, knowing you don’t have to worry about missing a scheduled service. The system sends us an alert.”

Unauthorized, after-hours use has been eliminated and fuel wasted with engines idling has been cut substantially. Robert adds that, before GPS, idle time soared in the summer months when the crews kept the trucks running for the air conditioning. 

“It also helps assure accurate job billing by telling us when the crew arrived at the jobsite and when it left," Ronning says.

Source: GPS Fleet Management

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