The fourth annual Construction Equipment Theft Report, conducted by the LoJack Corporation, revealed a rise in the number of professional theft rings and chop shops discovered by law enforcement using the LoJack system.In 2004, recoveries of LoJack-equipped construction equipment led police to locate 12 theft rings and seven chop shops, up from three theft rings and two chop shops in 2003. Equipment theft costs construction companies up to $1 billion per year in lost assets, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). LoJack offers a few reasons for the rise in construction equipment theft:* A title and registration for equipment is not mandated, making it harder for equipment to be traced back to owners and, hence, easier for thieves to get away with the crime. * Crime of this nature is driven by supply and demand and construction equipment is in high demand, making this a lucrative business opportunity for thieves.* Many construction sites have inadequate security and sites are often in unsecured, remote locations.* Equipment often have "open" cabs, making it easier for thieves to get in.* Thieves can often access universal keys that can start many pieces of equipment and/or vehicles.Other Findings: As in the prior year, the study found that the newer equipment on the job site are most common theft targets because of higher resale value. The types of equipment most frequency stolen are (in order): loaders, skid steers, generators, air compressors, dump trucks, welders and untethered trailers, light utility/work trucks and forklifts. These equipment types represented 81 percent of all construction equipment recoveries documented by LoJack last year. The LoJack report found that rates of construction equipment theft and recovery were again highest in those states where rapid growth or rebuilding had fueled more construction projects. Additionally, states with warmer weather have more construction year-round, translating into more opportunities for thieves. California was the most active area with 25 percent of the total recoveries; Florida was next at 19 percent, followed by Texas at 16 percent.