Protecting your construction site can be harder than you think. For that reason, you should always keep an extra eye out for your equipment. However, this is not always as easy and straightforward as it sounds. At the moment, the construction industry appears to bleed money due to construction equipment theft. The example of the United Kingdom is more than representative.
According to CIOB (Chartered Institute of Building), only in the UK the construction is losing around 400 million pounds per year as a result of equipment theft and on-site vandalism. On top of that, it undoubtedly is shocking that 92% of the participants in CIOB’s research replied that they are victims of construction site theft weekly, monthly or yearly. The same result for thefts on a weekly basis reaches up to 21%.
Taking these numbers into consideration, it easily becomes clear that something has to change within the industry. Before we talk for ways to prevent construction site theft, it’s crucial to gain a better understanding of why this is a big problem for our industry.
The Issue of Construction Site Theft
The problem of construction equipment theft has two, equally important, aspects. On the one hand, we are talking about preventing it and come up with ways to keep the intruders out of the site. On the other hand, we also have to consider the extra financial resources that would be necessary for replacing the stolen equipment. That being said, it’s easy to realize that the problem of theft in construction is more complicated than someone might think.
As far as the main reasons why construction equipment theft is such a pain for the industry, we could mainly focus our attention on the following three:
Time is money in construction. It’s no secret, then, that the vast majority of construction projects are operating under extremely pressing deadlines and the equipment has always to be accessible in no time. This many times leads to its storage on site which facilitates a lot the job of the intruders.
Insufficient Protection of the Equipment
Storing your equipment on site might not be the best idea. It’s widely exposed and an easy target to anyone who would like to lay their hands on it. On top of that, thin chains or locks of bad quality can be one of the main reasons why your equipment can eventually be stolen. Experienced intruders can break them fast and with no trouble in order to get what they want.
The low recovery rate of the equipment is another factor that empowers construction site theft. The thorough research of the NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau) in 2014 revealed that, only the 23% of the stolen equipment eventually returned to the hands of its owners. The serious difficulties in identifying the stolen machinery/ tools is one of the most fundamental reasons for this quite low recovery rate.
How To Prevent Construction Site Theft
As we already saw, the issue of construction equipment theft is very perplexing. Thankfully, there are some solutions against it. We present some of the most effective below:
1. Invest Extra Attention On Training
Training against any kind of on-site criminal activity should be one of your priorities and a fundamental part of your construction risk management plan. Don’t be afraid to adjust your training plan according to the area where your construction site is located and based on the competences of your security guards. In that way, you can always be prepared for such incidents and know how to protect your construction site in the most efficient manner possible.
2. Work Only With Certified Security Guards
This is an important parameter that many construction managers seem to overlook from time to time. Be always extremely careful with the selection of your security guards. A good suggestion comes from CIOB which encourage the hiring of security guards who are SIA (Security Industry Authority) approved. Thanks to this, you can avoid any “shady” security companies which might have a link to criminal activity.
3. Thorough Background Check Of Your Employees
In addition to the previous point, you should always proceed to a detailed check of your new employees’ background. It’s critical to know whether you can trust your new colleagues. And most importantly the people to whom you trust your construction machinery. The more you know the better!
4. Establish Strong Protection Measures
Putting together a solid security plan can be the answer to your construction site theft problem. For that reason, you want to cover every possible parameter by investing in security infrastructure. Strong locks, proper lighting in every corner of the site and monitor sensors can be valuable allies to your effort of protecting your construction site. High quality cameras which will be active 24/7 can also be a great solution. All the above in combination with skillful security guards can play a significant role in the protection of your construction equipment.
5. Monitor Job Site Access
It’s vital to know at every moment who comes and goes from your construction site. New technologies can provide great help with that. By creating a detailed database that can let you know who and when accessed the site, you are able to have full control over your equipment. Furthermore, you can easily know who is using which piece of machinery. Thanks to this, you can quickly find who is responsible in case you are facing problems with your equipment.
6. Add Distinct Characteristics To Your Equipment
Even in cases where you are not obliged to register your construction equipment, it’s a great idea to add some unique signs on them. Thanks to such identifiers, it can be easier for police to identify your stolen equipment and bring it back to you. These identifiers could be anything from a unique serial number to the symbol of your company.
7. Store Your Equipment To Low-Risk Places
Keeping an eye out for your equipment, when you are working on site is one thing. But being sure that you have stored it safely during the hours when nobody is around is another. That being mentioned, it would be a great idea to move your construction equipment during the hours where everyone is off-duty. In that way, you can keep it stored in a place where the likelihood of theft is significantly lower.
8. Never Neglect To Report A Crime
Even if we are talking for the most insignificant piece of equipment, make sure that you report it to the police. You may think that it’s not possible to make a difference but in the long run it will. Your equipment might not be found this time, but you give to the police the chance to start putting together a pattern that might help in future cases. Moreover, you want to make the life of the intruders as hard as possible. So, why not?
9. Catalogue Everything
This might be needless to say, but you have to keep good track of every little piece of machinery that lays on your inventory. Like that, you can be sure at any time that nothing is missing. In case of theft, it helps a lot with providing information that might help in finding the stolen equipment.
10. Stay Informed About Construction Site Theft
In order to keep your construction site safe, you have to constantly stay informed about everything that has to do with construction theft. Learn more about the kind of equipment that is most in demand by the potential thieves and put extra attention to its efficient protection. Additionally, try to learn about the areas with higher risk of construction site theft and manage the storage of your equipment accordingly.
Construction site theft is one of the hottest problems in our industry. In many cases, it can be very challenging to prevent it. Nevertheless, there are ways in which people working in construction can eventually tackle this problem. What is crucial for everyone to realize in such situations is that there is no room for complacency or negligence.