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Telematics helps Saudi company recover stolen backhoe loaders

by Dennis Daniel on Mar 6, 2018

 Omer Mukhtar with the recovered JCB 3CX backhoe loader.
Omer Mukhtar with the recovered JCB 3CX backhoe loader.

Omer Mukhtar would normally be unfazed by vehicle theft in Saudi Arabia. However, the Jeddah resident and operations manager of heavy equipment rental and manpower supplier Najla Establishment for General Contracting, could never have imagined or prepared for a recent incident when he found his construction vehicles stolen from a site in Madinah.

On 31 October 2017, Omer made a casual visit to Madinah at the project site of a client, two days after he dispatched three JCB 3CX backhoe loaders to them from his office in Jeddah.

Before and during his drive to Madinah, Omer attempted to contact representatives from his client and failed to reach them on the phone. Upon his arrival at the site, he noticed the vehicles missing and the site abandoned.

For Omer who invested over SAR800,000 in acquiring the backhoe loaders, losing them would eliminate almost his entire fleet, and as a result, ruin his business.

“As soon as I realised that my vehicles were missing, which also confirmed my suspicion that they were stolen, I contacted JCB’s local dealer Abunayyan Trading for help,” says Omer.

Abunayyan responded by attempting to locate the vehicles using Livelink - JCB’s telematics and machine fleet monitoring system, which monitors and manages machine fleet remotely anywhere in the world via the web, email or mobile. Real-time geo-fencing alerts tell owners when machines are switched on or moved out of predetermined zones set by them, and curfew alerts inform them about unauthorised usage. A back-up battery keeps tracking the machine even with the engine is switched off.

Omer hadn’t received a notification when his vehicles were stolen because telematics system on his machine was inactive. The SIM card was not activated on one of the backhoe loaders because the subscription wasn’t renewed by him, and the other two older models didn’t have telematics feature on them. So he got the SIM activated.

The same night he got a call from the JCB office notifying him that the backhoe loaders were located more than 900km away in a yard in Riyadh. The next day, on November 1, Omer reached the yard in Riyadh by using the coordinates provided by JCB, where new surprises awaited him.

“The next morning, when I reached the site, which was an industrial area in Riyadh, I found my backhoe loaders among several other brands of construction equipment, including other backhoe loaders, fork lifts and skid steer loaders stolen from different construction sites around the country.” he says.

Having recovered his vehicles, Omer sees the experience as a cautionary tale. The incident has made Najla Establishment take a fresh look at telematics to protect itself against future thefts.

JCB regional office points out that renewal of Livelink subscriptions could mean the difference between complete loss and immediate recovery of stolen vehicles. In addition to security, Livelink can be useful to owners of machines to increase uptime and manage fleet performance and productivity. They can also get vehicle health alerts and notifications to manage servicing of the machine.

New JCB machines are generally delivered with 3-year free subscription to Livelink. Currently JCB is offering a 5-year free subscription to Livelink. Prior to expiry of the free subscription, JCB dealers remind their customers and advise them to renew their Livelink subscriptions. Eventually, it is up to the customers to renew their subscriptions.