Types of Construction Site Theft & How to Stop It: A Comprehensive Guide

In New York City, where construction is always booming, the risk of theft is even greater. Shockingly, up to 21% of construction sites in the city are affected by theft every week, as the Chartered Institute of Building reports.

The consequences of theft on a construction site can be significant, leading to not only financial losses but also project delays. Yes, you don’t only lose the tools you need to accomplish the job, but you also have to replace your supplies until you can proceed or wait for insurance to reimburse expenses. Yet, studies reveal that only 25% of stolen items are recovered each year.

Based on the National Equipment Register’s Theft Report, estimates of the cost of construction equipment theft range from around $300 million to $1 billion, with the majority of figures falling in the range of $400 million

To address this issue, Linked Security has developed a comprehensive guide of best practices to prevent theft and enhance safety on construction sites.

Most Common Types of Construction Site Theft

When accessing a construction site, a thief could be looking for anything. Nevertheless, the following are the most common objects that intruders frequently search for.

This means if you have any of these on your site, you may find yourself a target!

  1. Tools

Tools are the items that are stolen from construction sites the most. Electrical and manual tools, in particular, are exceedingly simple to steal. These are incredibly simple to take with you because they can fit in small bags, jacket pockets, or even lunch boxes. Also, there are lots of potential purchasers searching the secondary market for a deal.

  1. Appliances

In newly built structures, constructors install air handlers, air conditioning units, furnaces, and water heaters. However, they leave the site empty at night, making them an easy target for thieves. With no one on-site to deter them, thieves are quick to steal these valuable assets right off the construction site, selling or reusing them again for their interests.

  1. Copper

After a thief has gained access to the property, copper is a valuable commodity that they can frequently steal without any difficulty. In addition to grabbing the pipes out of the walls, ceilings, and floors, thieves will target heaps of old copper pipes and wire. Frequently, the contractor should also inspect major water damage as a result.

  1. Lumber

The price of lumber has increased, and piles of structural lumber that were once safe to be left unattended on a worksite are now popular targets for theft. Thieves can take lumber from empty construction sites over one night and either sell it on second-hand markets or use it for their purposes.

  1. Heavy equipment

The rewards from reselling backhoes, excavators, bulldozers, and skid steers may be astronomical. Heavy equipment isn’t as simple to steal as appliances or tools, but it can still be done. The job might be put on hold if one of these expensive components disappears from a construction site.

7 Best Practices to Stop Construction Site Theft

Construction site theft is a prevalent problem in the industry, with significant direct and indirect costs. In addition to the expense of replacing stolen assets, construction site theft can lead to elevated insurance rates, rental fees for stolen equipment replacement, and decreased productivity.

However, by taking proactive measures to prevent theft, construction site managers can avoid these costs and protect their assets. By implementing a few effective strategies, you can increase the complicity of theft from your property while putting up barriers that discourage intruders.

  1. Implement a theft prevention policy

As most theft occurs internally and subcontractors working on several sites are aware of all the easy targets, it is important to thoroughly verify all contractors before working with them to guarantee they are honest. Since contractors and subcontractors who steal are frequently repeated offenders, there is a significant probability that another contractor knows them and would be eager to alert other members of the construction community.

Establishing a theft prevention policy and making sure that all workers and subcontractors are informed of the rules and penalties of stealing are therefore advised. This can include removing leftover material for personal use and borrowing tools for after-hours or side jobs.

Also, it is advised to establish a zero-tolerance policy for offenders and warn workers and subcontractors that you will pursue legal action if they are identified. Communicate with the local authorities to let them know when workers are permitted on the job site and ask if they may conduct additional site patrols during non-working hours.

  1. Secure Your Construction Site

The most straightforward method of preventing theft at construction sites is to secure the area by building a high fence, installing lighting, and even hiring night security to keep an eye on the site after sundown. Moreover, think about using geofencing and GPS trackers to secure your tools and equipment. Although these tracking devices aren’t actual obstacles, they can find tools that have been stolen from a construction site.

A construction site that is brightly illuminated, walled in, and has warning signs mounted is less likely to be targeted. Use heavy-gauge, tamper-resistant locks, and chains to lock up tools and construction supplies in storage containers and cargo trailers to secure your workplace.

To make sure that everything is present and accounted for after each workday, keep an inventory log of all items, tools, equipment, and keys. Maintain a record of who checked out each key and store it together in a safe central area.

  1. Install a Security System

Recent data has shown that the installation of operational video surveillance cameras can significantly reduce crime rates in monitored locations. As such, investing in a CCTV security system for your NYC building site is a great decision since 

To meet a variety of surveillance requirements, construction site security cameras are available in a wide range of offerings, including wired and wireless cameras, black-and-white and color cameras, IP-based cameras, unidirectional bullet and multidirectional cameras, wide-angle lenses that are excellent for capturing large lots, etc.

Also, you can benefit from mobile surveillance systems, which are affordable, comparatively simple to install, energy-efficient, and capable of being watched remotely. You can benefit from SMS alerts when a camera is activated by motion or infrared sensors by having an internet-connected camera. This enables you to alert the authorities right away once unauthorized access is revealed at your construction site.

  1. Integrate video surveillance with an alarm system

For a greater deterrent effect, video security cameras can be combined with alarm systems that are capable of being operated remotely or automatically. Linked Security can integrate your alarm system into your CCTV and building security, whether you wish to establish a wireless or hardwired alarm system.

While sensors or cameras that trigger loud, obtrusive sirens can deter thieves, silent alarms can be used to alert authorities to the location before the offender is aware that they have been captured. Professional security services can keep an eye on alarm systems to guarantee your construction site the best possible protection.

One of the best methods for safeguarding your possessions is an intrusion alarm system. A well-designed system will include a few layers of defense or detection, be simple to use, and be connected to the appropriate central monitoring station.

  1. Register Your Equipment

You can register your heavy machinery with organizations like the National Equipment Registry or the Heavy Equipment Registration, which will help law enforcement identify and return your stolen items. 

With the intent to assist the police in recovering stolen property, these registers offer free access to the authorities. While taking these precautions won’t guarantee that your enterprise will never have anything stolen, they’ll significantly decrease the possibility that thieves will target your construction site.

  1. Maintain Purchase Records

Each piece of equipment you employ on a construction site needs to be listed in precise detail. Maintain a note of the manufacturer, model, serial number, or PIN for each piece of equipment, along with pictures taken from various perspectives. 

This action might not deter trespassers from stealing anything, but it might encourage dishonest employees to think twice before stealing your equipment. Also, by having these records, it is simpler to report a theft to the authorities and more difficult for the burglar to resell the stolen items.

  1. Disable equipment circuit breakers

By turning off the circuit breakers for these appliances, you can guarantee that they won’t receive any power and create obstacles for any thieves who attempt to transport them. Eliminating the fuel supply is another strategy for maintaining the safety of big machinery and vehicles. These units can have a fuel pressure kill switch installed so that if someone tries to drive them from your construction site, they won’t accomplish it.

Locking all vehicles at the construction site is one of the easiest precautions you can take. Accidental vehicle unlocking by some employees could allow access to overnight theft. Everyone should be encouraged to lock their doors, as this will act as a sufficient deterrent to potential robbers.

Protect Your Construction Site Today: Take Action Against Theft!

As you can see, a multi-layered defense is the most effective way to stop theft on construction sites. Nevertheless, along with other influential measures, one of the best precautions you can take to safeguard your equipment is to install a security system on your construction site. Accordingly, choosing a security company you can rely on to protect your premise is ultimately a wise investment.

Don’t hesitate to contact us right away if you are considering hiring exceptionally qualified and experienced professionals. We will customize a security system exclusively for your construction site to safeguard you against theft and other concerns, including vandalism and accidents.

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