It’s happening at community centres, sports fields, colleges, universities, and municipal properties across Canada and the United States. No, we aren’t talking about petty theft such as stolen cell phones and other small objects of value; we are talking about large-scale theft of valuable athletic equipment.
Given the large nature of some of these properties, as well as the fact that they are often left outdoors unattended, they have become among the most popular targets of thieves over the past decade or so.
Because these products are often left unattended on weekends and overnight, from all of us. The very equipment that is designed, manufactured and installed for the use by members of our community, our children, and our youth athletes is being heavily targeted by thieves. The good news is, with some simple prevention, your equipment will be safe from becoming an eventual statistic.
Here are some of the most commonly targeted items in 2019:
The demand for raw materials has risen dramatically over the last decade and it is no surprise that aluminum bleacher theft is reflecting this upward trend. Facility owners and operators often overlook the security of these large-scale seating structures because of their size. Given the sheer amount of raw materials used in their construction however, they can be in fact very desirable targets.
Those who are targeting aluminum often strike during the night and methodically dismantle and remove the bleachers in a matter of hours.
In addition to bleacher seating structures, many site amenities include players benches placed along the sidelines of sports fields, allowing participants a place to sit and catch their breath.
Constructed of the same aluminum planks as bleachers, these benches are often dramatically smaller in size and lend themselves to theft, particularly if they have not been permanently installed.
Yes, turf. The very surface on which many of our favourite sports and pastimes take place has become wildly popular among thieves over the past few years. Once laid, turf is relatively safe, although there have been reports of thieves pulling up portions of laid turf and cutting out sections for other uses.
The real risk with regards to turf occurs in the spring. During this time of year, many facilities are busy preparing their sports fields for the coming months of athletic programming and leave rolls of turf outdoors awaiting installation for the upcoming season.
This is obviously a perfect opportunity for thieves who are then able to easily remove these rolls, or portions of them in a matter of minutes.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to any sort of theft, there are a number of precautions that can be taken to mitigate the risk to operators. Firstly, always ensure the athletic field or space is well lit during all hours of the night. Thieves prefer to work under the guise of darkness and will move to a more remote or dimly lit target if yours is too bright.
Additionally, the use of engravings and other markings is often used to identify stolen materials. With the rise of aluminum and raw material theft, metal dealers are mandated to inspect any material for out-of-place markings. A simple logo or name engraved on the product can often lead to an arrest and hopefully a conviction for thieves of athletic equipment.