Equipment thefts move Orange County officials to add tracking devices

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

Orange County leaders are preparing to spend more than $150,000 to protect expensive public works equipment from thieves.
 
Officials said $175,000 worth of county-owned equipment was stolen over the past three months.
 
Officials said they have a plan to put tracking devices on many county-owned vehicles in an effort to put an end to the thefts.
 
They said they plan to start with some of the bigger pieces of equipment, like dump trucks. In all, about 500 pieces of equipment, or about half the county's fleet of vehicles, will get the tracking devices.
 
"We have close to 1,100 pieces of equipment at a cost of over $42 million worth of inventory," said Orange County Public Works Director Mark Massaro.
 
Despite the county public work's security and anti-theft safeguards, thieves have been able to make off with county equipment and vehicles.
 
"They were able to hotwire these pieces of equipment and move them off. These are professionals we're dealing with," said Massaro.
 
Officials believe there is a market, locally, and even internationally, for  the stolen equipment.
 
In one case, thieves drove a $125,000 backhoe through a fence, officials said.
           
"Because of recent thefts, we gotten more serious," said Massaro.
 
County officials are now putting LoJack tracking devices on many county vehicles and on heavy-duty equipment, at a cost of $163,000.
 
Officials said LoJack devices result in a 90 percent recovery rate and they are tied to law enforcement databases to help police find stolen equipment not just locally, but internationally.
 
The county said the devices are a no-brainer and will pay for themselves in no time.
 
County officials said they have been able to recover some of the recently stolen equipment, but there have been no arrests.