How to Safeguard Your Surveying Gear with Technology

Robotic total stations are making a comeback in high-crime areas thanks to advanced anti-theft solutions.


Over the last decade, robotic total stations have had a significant impact on speed and quality for countless surveying, mapping and engineering firms. The ability to operate the instruments remotely, transfer data digitally, and achieve high accuracy and precision makes these high-tech surveying instruments essential for running a successful business. More recent advances such as the ability to automatically adjust to environmental conditions and lock precisely onto a target (rather than reflective vests or other objects) drive efficiencies even higher.

“The ability to recover stolen equipment is huge. This advance changes the way professionals work in the field.”

– Alan McKay

But these advanced tools haven’t just attracted the attention of surveyors. As the popularity of robotic total stations has increased, so have the reports of theft. From 2002 to 2017 in Florida alone, more than $5.6 million in surveying and mapping equipment was stolen, with 50 percent of those crimes involving total stations.* Simply locking equipment in a truck is not enough; thieves have been known to smash windows and even break tailgates to obtain valuable surveying equipment.

The Business Impact of Theft

The situation has forced some surveying and mapping firms to make less than optimal business decisions. Miami Dade County, for example, is almost completely off limits for robotic total stations. “It’s not that people don’t like the technology or don’t think it increases efficiency,” says Alan McKay of FLT Geosystems.” It’s just that they can’t afford to have a valuable instrument sitting on a tripod that’s going to get stolen, and unfortunately, they get stolen quite frequently. So we end up seeing people reverting to manual total stations with a two-person crew, or using cheap technology.”

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Even insurance doesn’t help since few, if any, carriers are willing to provide coverage in high-crime areas. It’s a frustrating situation for firms that want to use technology to provide efficient, high-quality service to their clients.

Making Robotic Technology Steal-Proof

LOC8 gives you the precise location of your total stations, with updates every minute.

Recent technology advances provide a solution. The Internet of Things (IoT), which allows objects to send and receive data through embedded computing devices, has already enhanced workflows with self-learning capabilities that minimize the manual adjustments needed in the field. Now, remote tracking and locking capabilities provide even greater advantages.

Through innovations such as Leica Geosystems LOC8, you can now know the precise location of your total stations, with location updates every minute. When you’re working on a jobsite, you can set up safe zones through geofences that alert you when equipment is removed from the area. If someone takes your equipment, you can track and recover it quickly.

Even more valuable is that you can remotely lock your technology through your smartphone or desktop app. Knowing that stolen equipment can’t be used or resold changes the perception that it’s a soft target for thieves and makes it more insurable.

LOC8 allows you to remotely lock and track your technology through your smartphone.

As a side benefit, the technology also provides a two-way data link for firmware updates and real-time error reporting, which makes maintenance and troubleshooting easier.

 “The ability to recover stolen equipment is huge,” says McKay. “Companies that haven’t been able to justify the risk of owning robotic technology now feel confident about making that investment, knowing it’s going to make them more accurate and more productive, and now it can be locked and tracked. This advance changes the way professionals work in the field.”

The technology is available on all new MS60 MultiStations, Leica TS16 and Leica TS13 robotic total stations, as well as the Flexline TS03, TS07 and TS10 manual total stations. Firms that already have one of these models can easily upgrade to LOC8 through their nearest service center.

Contact your local rep or go here to learn more.