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Risky Business: It was always OK - Routine rental costs company

by Ashleigh Petersen

A man went into the rental store where his employer always rented equipment for their company. They had a good working relationship, and the workers would show up, sign the paperwork and the rental store employees would verify the rental and send them on their way.

This had been going on for quite a few years. At this point, the rental store employees didn’t always verify the rental if they were particularly busy. “It was always OK.” A recent morning was one of those days. The rental store had customers three deep at the counter, and they were anxious to move on to the next customer. The contract was signed and since it was a long-term rental, the counter employees verified the billing information and moved on.

One month passed and it was time to bill the construction company for the next month’s rental. The construction company called when they received the bill and stated they did not rent that lift. In fact, it had been several months since they had rented any lifts at all.

The lift was equipped with GPS and the rental store activated it to see if they could locate the lift. The last place they were able to see where the lift was located was a couple of miles down the road on the day it was rented. The GPS had been disabled or destroyed almost immediately.

They went to the location hoping to find something, even though at this point it had been nearly two months since the lift had gone missing. They knocked on the door of a business next door to the parking lot and the man who answered the door said he remembered seeing the lift there one afternoon but didn’t think much of it since he knew the rental store was right down the road and the lift was gone after an hour or so.

The lift was registered with the National Equipment Register (NER) and the rental store contacted them to report the theft. It was then they were told that there was a suspected theft ring in the area that they were just discovering that week. A large complex was being built in a neighboring town and the same sort of thing had happened to two other rental stores in the area over the last few weeks and the stores had just notified the NER within the last few days.

Claims were reported to the respective insurance companies and an investigation was opened in conjunction with the local police and other regional agencies. None of the equipment has ever been located.

Remind your employees to verify everything they typically do and follow all procedures whether they are busy or not.