Asset Tracking in the Wild: Theft Recovery Stories

September 26, 2018


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When equipment goes missing, having a way to recover your assets quickly becomes priceless. We sat down with a few of our customers to hear their firsthand stories of equipment theft and how asset tracking is improving their operations.

Establishing Theft-Prevention Measures

Triangle Electric, a 70-year-old electrical construction firm, services a 600-square-mile area across North Dakota and Montana. Fleet manager Tim Melby uses Samsara to keep track of the company’s 150 vehicles and its hundreds of other pieces of equipment.

Last year, one of their skid steers was stolen from a job site in the middle of the night. With their tracking solution at the time, they only saw updated GPS location information every 12 hours.

“If we would’ve been able to track that skid steer faster back then, we probably would’ve been able to stop it from traveling 1,300 miles to Dallas before we had it recovered by law enforcement,” said Melby.

Samsara's asset tracking devices have customizable ping rates, meaning you can choose a less frequent rate to increase battery life or a more frequent rate to recover equipment during emergency situations.

“With Samsara, we are able to change the check-in rate remotely. This alone increases the value of the entire system by about 20% for us!” said Melby. “We don’t worry about theft that much—but in case we have a situation, it’s nice to have that tool at our disposal.”

The company’s technicians regularly work in severe weather—their region has one of the harshest climates in the United States—and one of the biggest benefits for Melby is the ability to locate employees who might be in danger because of the cold.

In addition, Samsara’s asset tracking solution helps them provide records to their customers of the work they’ve completed. “In audits, asset tracking information is extremely valuable,” said Melby. “We need to be able to prove to our customers that our service man was on site at a particular time and show them that we billed them properly for that time.” By automating these records through Samsara, Triangle Electric is able to streamline their operations.

Achieving a Rapid ROI

Blue Horizon Energy, a full-service solar project developer in Minneapolis, owns a fleet of trucks, trailers, and equipment to drive to project sites, move materials, and complete construction.

In March 2018, a 16-foot enclosed trailer was stolen from their office. Over the weekend, company management noticed in their Samsara dashboard that the trailer was at an unusual location. The team had just installed Samsara asset gateways in the trucks and trailers the week before.

They drove to the trailer’s GPS location and found it stashed in some bushes in a residential area. The stolen trailer was the only one without the company name on its side, and the thief had already put on a new license plate, filed off VIN numbers, and removed any noticeable manufacturing decals.

“We’ve had trucks broken into twice over the past three years, but this was a first for us,” said Blue Horizon Energy. “If we hadn’t had tracking on it, the trailer would’ve already been unidentifiable. Having the asset tracker was the only reason we got it back.”

Local law enforcement was able to recover the stolen trailer and the contents inside, in total worth about $10,000.

“At the end of the day, it only takes one incident,” said Blue Horizon Energy. “We were able to recoup the cost of running Samsara for 2–3 years just with this one recovery, which is a great ROI—in addition to the day-to-day logistics value and rich data the platform gives us.”

Interested in finding out more? Check out how asset tracking and live GPS can help you protect your fleet, your equipment, and ultimately, your business.


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