Securing Survey Equipment Header

Securing Surveying Equipment

Nothing can describe that gut wrenching, sinking feeling you get when you see someone running off with your expensive surveying equipment. And you are to far away to be able to do anything other than watch.

The surveying equipment that is the life blood of your business is disappearing down the street.

What about theft of Survey Equipment?

Survey Equipment theft has been a growing problem over the last few years. Reported thefts have been increasing year on year. And not all thefts are reported. With the increased risk of theft comes the increasing yearly insurance quotes for survey equipment.

The favoured method of theft appears to be from drive by collections of instruments or stolen from vehicles. Below is a few of the thefts of Survey Equipment that I have found recently. These links will take you to other sites and may not always be maintained.

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What do the Police advise to prevent people from stealing Surveying Equipment?

The police have three main points of advice on how to prevent your surveying equipment from being stolen. These recommendations would apply to many different types of portable equipment too.

Observe – Stay Put – Keep it Secure


Pay attention to your surroundings and the environment you are working in. Often we have no choice in where the work is to be undertaken. The survey equipment is at greater risk from a drive-by theft on the side of a busy road than it is in the middle of a field.

Make sure that your equipment is not left in an area where it is easy to pull up and take the equipment.

Is there anybody watching you or what you are doing?

An engineer had a total station stolen in Bilston that he was just about to set up when an excavator moved between him and the total station equipment while he was answering a question on site. As soon as his and the others around sight had been blocked, someone came out of the wooded area and took the total station that was in its box.

The first he knew was when someone said, is that your instrument that he is running away with?

Stay Put.

Always keep an eye on your survey equipment. Only set it up when it is needed. It is always more difficult to steal something when site people are around.

However tempting it is to leave it set up over a break time – DON’T.

Keep it Secure.

When using your surveying equipment, if you don’t have someone who can stand next to it as a security guard, Lock It. Use a locking device to keep it secure or to make it difficult to carry away.

Don’t leave the equipment where it can be seen when being stored in a vehicle.

Get your survey equipment forensically marked or tagged. Datatag is one solution for this. And make sure that it clearly labelled that it is Datataged.

Keep a record of the Serial Numbers.

Always take a note of the serial numbers of your surveying equipment. These are usually stamped on the device somewhere but are often stored within the software too.

If your Survey Equipment gets Stolen.

Report it to the police. Make sure that you also inform them that it is high value item. You will often need a crime number for your insurance claim too.

Also report it to the manufacturer. They can flag the instrument serial number. This makes it harder to sell the instrument on and means that it can’t be legitimately serviced or calibrated. It also means that it may be impossible to update the software too.

Is there anything you can do to secure your survey equipment so that it doesn’t get stolen?

There are plenty of options that you can employ to secure your survey equipment. How you secure your survey equipment will depend on the location and environment.

The first and most well know physical method of securing survey equipment is the Wren-a-guard. This is a metal device that is attached to the survey tripod that stops the tripod legs being folded. This makes it difficult for the thief to carry the instrument away. It also makes it difficult for the thief to remove the survey equipment from the tripod.

Wren-a-Guard System

Wren A Guard. This is a physical system that attaches to the tripod. The kit comprises of a lock, an alarm and a lanyard to secure the tripod of the survey equipment.

Wren-a-Guard Tripod Lock, Alarm and Lanyard

Of course, if you can’t get a wren-a-guard system then a system of security chains will work too. This is a system that I have used when securing a total station. It simple consists of a couple of security cables, a couple of padlocks and a heavy-duty ground screw for use in soft landscapes. You can of course padlock the survey equipment to any hard fixture.

The pictures below will show how I recently secured a total station on site.

Securing Surveying Equipment
Alternative Securing System
Jiodux Ground Anchor

Jiodux Ground Anchor.

Weight: 3.6oz, Length: 12 1/4”, Diameter: 1 1/8”.

400lb Vertical pullout resistance.

Approx 600lb pullout resistance at 45 degrees.

Easy to use and nearly indestructible.

Double-Loop Braided Steel Flexible Lock Cable

Double-Loop Braided Steel Flexible Lock Cable.

Braided steel structure provides strength and flexibility as well as strong resistance to cutting, Double rings can accommodate padlocks, U-shaped locks or dish-shaped locks, Vinyl covering prevents rust and scratches.

What about Survey Equipment Insurance?

Finding the right insurance for surveying equipment can be exceedingly difficult. Surveying equipment can be extremely expensive and is used in all conditions and locations. Insurance is one of those things that you do not need until things go wrong. But when thing do go wrong you need to be back working quickly and with minimal hassle.

Do you have your survey equipment insured for any eventuality in any location?

The two places that I know about that do insurance for land surveying equipment are HLI Registered Insurance Brokers and Anchorman Insurance Consultants Ltd.

Links to Survey Equipment Insurance Suppliers.

HLI Registered Insurance Brokers (

Anchorman Insurance Consultants Ltd.

I have used both above-mentioned companies to insure survey equipment. Both give good service and well worth getting a quote from both. The insurance will usually include public liability and employer’s liability insurance also as standard.

Remember that you are not only insuring against theft of surveying equipment but also accidental damage to.

Survey Equipment Tracking.

The main surveying equipment manufacturers have all recently being offering a tracking service on their latest surveying equipment.

Leica LOC8. The Leica LOC8 system provides tracking information for Leica Total Stations and GPS Equipment. For more information about the Leica LOC8 System either visit the Leica website or read this article about Leica LOC8. For a story about how the Leica LOC8 works read about how a total station was recovered in under 3 hours.

Topcon TS Shield. For more information on the Topcon TSshield look at this website

Trimble L2P. The Trimble L2P works in a similar way to that of the Leica LOC8 system. Here Survey Solutions detail how they managed to recover a stolen total station in under two hours.

Having survey equipment stolen or damaged ultimately costs more than the instrument. There is the downtime for your business, the cost of the surveyor not working.

And then there is the data that has been lost too.

Related Articles

Survey Equipment Insurance

Survey Equipment Insurance set to soar

Tracking Total Stations with Leica LOC8

Useful resources from other websites.