A great article from the “Daily Brew” is a great reminder to keep your personal items under lock and key especially during Spring Break Up. Every year we have numerous SkyBase customers come to us to replace stolen GPS units. As if losing the GPS unit isn’t bad enough, think of all the tracks, waypoints and favourites that take hours to compile – all gone. Not to mention their PatchMap SD card.
Alberta energy sector, RCMP struggle to deal with numerous oilfield thefts
Industrial equipment and material have always been a tempting targets for thieves and Alberta’s thriving oil and gas industry is discovering crooks can’t resist helping themselves to some of the gear that can’t always be put under lock and key.The industry is losing millions of dollars in machinery and material, the Globe and Mail reports, everything from copper wire to ATVs and whole drilling rigs.
“These are high-ticket items,” Wood Buffalo RCMP S.Sgt. Keith Durance, based in Fort McMurray, told the Globe. “Generally speaking, there is a pretty lucrative market in larger industrial equipment.”
The problem exists anywhere energy companies operate. According to the Texas web siteStopOilfieldTheft.com, the U.S. industry estimates it loses almost a $1 billion a year to thieves.
“Criminals will steal whatever they can get their hands on—and they can get their hands on a lot of expensive equipment in the oilfield,” the site says. “From $100 tools to $10,000 tongs, it all adds up to a big problem for energy sector organizations.”Sometimes brazen thieves don’t even have to travel into the boonies. The Grande Prairie Beacon News reported last month RCMP in the northwestern Alberta city are investigating the theft of $70,000 in oilfield gear lifted off the back of a pickup truck.
The Edmonton Journal reported last month two men were facing charges for allegedly stealing $250,000 in oilfield equipment, including all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, tools and industrial electronics.
After getting a report of a suspicious vehicle, RCMP in Vermillion, Alta., caught the thieves red-handed stealing copper wire and batteries. A subsequent investigation lead them to a property where a hoard of stolen gear, the Journal said.
The Globe noted a longtime oilfield worker is set to appear in a Fort McMurray court charged with steeling heavy steel oil-rig mats worth almost $267,000 from a well site. It took two years to crack the case.
RCMP have stepped up their response by putting more officers on the file, the Globe says.
Conservative MLA Dave Quest is also proposing a private member’s bill in the Alberta legislature that would require scrap dealers to demand identification from sellers offering potentially stolen material.
Part of the problem is that energy exploration and production often takes place in isolated areas where it’s hard to provide round-the-clock security. Thieves can roll in at their leisure and cherry-pick whatever they can carry away.
“Since the economy came back, it’s starting to be more of a problem,” Sgt. Jeff McBeth, detachment commander in the the northwestern Alberta community of Fox Creek, told the Globe.
McBeth said his detachment gets about one oilfield theft complaint a week. In January, someone made off with a mulching machine worth $200,000.
Thieves take advantage of “spring breakup,” when heavy vehicles are banned from muddy roads until they’ve dried up enough to withstand them, Mark Salkeid, president of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada, told the Globe. Drilling sites are shut down for up to a month.
We love to see you, but hate to see you have your personal items get stolen. Be sure to take your GPS out of your Cab. If you are lending your vehicle to someone, at the very least, remove your PatchMap card from your Garmin.