10 Ways to Prevent Theft on Your Construction Site

Construction sites are frequently stolen from. Whether it’s stealing large equipment, taking heavy equipment for joy rides, or taking construction materials that aren’t theirs, build sites get hit all the time. Because of this, site managers and foremen are having to add more to their budgets for security -- causing higher job bids -- to be sure things don’t get vandalized or unlawfully taken. These added costs mean frugal clients are going to frown, current projects can get delayed, and insurance premiums go up. 

So what can a construction company do when they are on a budget, trying to cut costs, or simply trying to keep construction theft from happening? Well, we’ve made up a list of ways that you can beef up your build site security that are easy and simple. Read on!

Construction Security is Expensive

Unfortunately, construction security is expensive; or can be. Between optional on-site security personnel, cameras, security alarm companies, etc. the costs can easily and quickly add up. But many believe the cost is worth it because those amounts can pale in comparison to the amounts that add up from construction site theft. In fact, it all adds up to as much as $1 billion dollars per year in the United States, alone.

Since productivity and speed are top of mind for most construction companies, manufacturers create equipment that is rather easy to get into and drive off with, because of the creation of nearly identical keys for the heavy machinery found on any build site. They manufacture them this way so it's easier for your employees to get into the machines and work without having to keep track of one set of keys, however, it also means thieves can easily do the same thing, stealing the equipment to never return. 

So why don’t the manufacturers make the keys more machine-specific? It would delay workers. Lost keys mean lost work hours. The manufacturers are responding to their customers’ wants and needs. 

And with wheeled/tracked and towable equipment being the largest percentage of items stolen (71%), it means construction site managers really need to know how to protect the site. Regrettably, in 2016, according to the National Equipment Registry, Oklahoma made it into the top ten states where construction theft is the worst, representing 63% of all construction thefts in the United States of America. (Not in 2018, though!)

Top Ten Pieces of Equipment Stolen

According to UCIT Security, the top ten pieces of stolen construction equipment are:

  1. Mower, riding or garden tractor – 43%
  2. Tractor -12%
  3. Loaders (Skid Steers/Back hoes/Wheel loaders) 17%
  4. Excavator – 3%
  5. Fork Lift – 2%
  6. Generator, compressor & welder -2%
  7. Bulldozer – 1%
  8. Light Tower – 0.5%
  9. Brush Chipper – 0.5%
  10. Others – 17%

But Construction Delays and Insurance Premiums are Expensive, Too

Sadly, when thefts hit your build site, you not only end up losing equipment or materials that you needed in order for the job to get done, you also have to replace what was stolen, and move on, or wait for insurance to replace it so you can move forward (because let’s face it - you’re not getting that stuff back. Only 25% of stolen equipment is recovered every year). 

And if you’re having to wait for the insurance company to replace what was lost, you could be looking at weeks to months. This means the project gets pushed out, money lost, and it could threaten the contract, which would just be another kick to the.. Gut. Ultimately, any construction theft means more time or money when those things are already at a premium.

And speaking of premiums; Let’s not forget about the insurance premiums that go up as a result of stolen items and claims that you process for them. Just like when you get into a car accident, insurance companies pass along those costs back to you, the customer. So now, not only have the thieves cost you time and money during the project but now the repercussions will follow you for quite a while afterward, too. What a waste!

Luckily, these construction thefts can be prevented and prevented affordably.

How to Prevent Construction Theft on Your Build Sites

While many in the industry may consider construction theft a small issue, (everything can get replaced, right?) it can be easily prevented, which will help overall production times and budgetary concerns, and every manager wants to lower costs while increasing productivity.

  1. Lock up keys. Even Lo-Jack recommends construction managers lock up site keys, and maybe even lock them up off-site.
  2. Lock Your Doors and Windows. It may sound simple, but keeping doors and office windows locked can make sure thefts and vandalism don’t happen on your site. It’s surprising how many people don’t!
  3. Lock up Valuable Items. If the site you’re working on already has a building, this is easier to do. When you don’t have that option, you may consider purchasing shipping containers for this purpose, or other storage options.
  4. Circle up large equipment. Circling larger machines around smaller equipment, materials, and motor vehicles can help prevent someone from coming along and trying to hook things up to their hitch to tow or drive away.
  5. Chain up what you can. Weaving chains through smaller equipment and materials, when you can, then applying locks, can help deter thieves looking for a quick buck.
  6. Store materials inside. Don’t leave material lying around if you can keep from it. Obviously there will always be fairly large items that you can’t help but leave out, but boards, chemicals, concrete, hand tools, and other items can be easily locked up and put out of the way (which also protects them from the weather outdoors).
  7. Put up a Fence. Keep nosy, nefarious “neighbors” from getting a clear view of the equipment and materials you keep on-site by using privacy fencing. Why make it easy for them? Even temporary fencing made of chain link can deter crimes of opportunity.
  8. Keep good records. Keeping thorough records of inventory, as well as serial numbers on equipment and heavy machinery will help aid law enforcement in recovering your items.
  9. Mark Property Lines Clearly. Use signage to clearly mark where the build site begins and ends, just to make sure no one “makes a mistake”.
  10. Make Sure to Report Suspicious Activity. Be sure your crew knows who to talk to or how to report suspicious activity and be sure to alert the local police department. Sometimes, all it takes is a patrol car or two to prevent someone from feeling too brave.

Overall, there are multiple ways that you can prevent theft on your construction sites that are budget-friendly and pretty easy to implement. If you’re looking for fencing for your construction build site, give us a call for a free quote. We would be happy to help you protect your ass.. ets. 918-272-0568.

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