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From the Editor

It seems that everywhere we turn nowadays, there's something new that Americans have to protect themselves against. From criminal acts to legislative initiatives, there's plenty of ways that mason contractors have to watch their backs. However, there are several groups that can help you avoid these 21st century pitfalls.

Identity Theft
In previous issues, we've discussed identity theft, which has risen to an unimaginable 9.9 million cases in 2003 (see pg. 4 in March 2004 and pg. 8 in July 2004). In mid-July, lawmakers responded by passing the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act, creating the charge of aggravated identity theft that carries a two-year prison term. Also, several governmental organizations — the Federal Trade Commission (www.consumer.gov/idtheft), Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice and more — are creating the first line of defense against this new form of financial attack.

Stolen Machinery
From stolen identities, we move to stolen equipment. Unfortunately, construction machinery theft is becoming more abundant for three reasons: joyriding, black market sales and chop shops, and to pull off automated teller machine (ATM) heists. In one month alone — from June 18 to July 19 — seven ATMs were stolen in Atlanta using hot-wired front-end loaders or telehandlers taken from nearby construction sites. Aside from this local phenomenon, the Insurance Service Office reports that construction theft nationally has increased 10-20% every year since 1996.

Because construction machinery isn't typically titled or registered and thieves usually remove any identifiable markings, getting your large equipment returned can often prove to be a challenge. While there are preventative measures you can take to protect your investments, two companies can help if your equipment ever "walks off" the site. LoJack (www.lojack.com) offers a small radio frequency transceiver that can be hidden in the machine, allowing authorities to track the location and movement of stolen construction equipment. Contractors can also include their machinery in the National Equipment Register (www.nerusa.com), which helps law enforcement identify the owners of stolen equipment.

Legislation
Masonry readers are probably well informed on the current legislation that is looming over their heads (see pg. 8 in August 2004). From silica and hexavalent chromium to hearing conservation and personal protection, mason contractors have quite a bit at stake right now. However, MCAA is taking the necessary measures to ensure that these legislative issues don't harm your business. The Association has taken steps — from the recent alliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, to its active participation in steering committees, stakeholder meetings and roundtable discussions — to guard your business against potentially devastating legislation and standards.

Become an MCAA member today and support the organization that is protecting your business. Call (800) 536-2225 or visit www.masoncontractors.org.






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