You’re probably not doing enough to deter construction theft


With sites left unattended for longer periods of time and fewer eyes on big-ticket items, construction companies are more vulnerable than ever to crime and its impact.

ACBM Staff

The past two years have propelled the construction industry into one of its toughest times, facing lockdowns, new government restrictions and regulations, and project interruptions. While some of these hurdles are finally easing, others persist endlessly, such as staffing and supply chain shortages. With sites left unattended for longer periods of time and fewer eyes on big-ticket items such as tools, heavy equipment and raw materials, businesses in the construction industry are more vulnerable than ever to crime and to its impact.

Are construction professionals doing enough to protect their sites and valuable assets by deterring preventable theft? According to new research from Pro-Vigil, they may be missing the mark. In a survey of nearly 120 business leaders, nearly half of whom were in the construction industry, 28% reported that physical security incidents increased in 2021, compared to just 20% reporting an increase in 2020. Even more concerning, the overwhelming majority (57%) said they had not updated their security strategies, despite the escalation in crime.

These shortcomings in the security and protection strategy can cause significant damage to construction companies. In addition to the costs of replacing stolen items, there are also the financial and reputational losses that construction companies incur due to forced project downtime while they wait for replacement parts to arrive.

Five tips to fight theft

So what can construction leaders do to prevent theft, vandalism, and other damage to their property, projects, and assets? Here are five simple yet effective tips you can follow now to make your construction business safer now and in the future.

  1. Some materials and equipment will still need to remain at the project site, but where possible, aim to store only essential construction materials there.Some materials and equipment will still need to remain at the project site, but where possible, aim to store only essential construction materials there.ACBM StaffMinimize on-site materials: Some materials and equipment will still need to remain at the project site, but where possible, aim to store only essential construction materials there. Less inventory means fewer targets for thieves.
  2. Protect your perimeter: At the end of each shift, make it a habit to lock all entry points and gates, and perform a fence check – taking care to repair any holes or weaknesses immediately. Be sure to leave fencing until a project is complete and all valuables are removed. Also, create enough space between the fence and objects inside, like storage containers, so thieves can’t easily steal through the fence.
  3. Anchor heavy equipment: Secure valuable heavy equipment by attaching it to a chain or cable after hours or whenever it is unattended for long periods of time. Consider lowering blades and buckets as an added measure to help park and secure larger equipment.
  4. Take out the batteries: Battery theft is a common and ongoing problem, so it’s a good idea to detach the battery wires or completely remove the batteries from the machines. That way, even though thieves can buy a cheap master key online, they can’t walk away with big gear.
  5. Make it bright to leave criminals in the dark: Darkness gives thieves an advantage, so light up your site as much as possible during periods of low visibility. Set timers to have lights turn on and off automatically at certain times. Solar powered lights are ideal for more remote areas without easy access to

Beyond Construction Safety

In addition to many construction leaders not updating their security strategies to deal with growing incidents and threats, the survey also showed that 35% use no video surveillance, compared to only 4% of cars/trucks/boats/dealership managers saying the same.

A lack of CCTV leaves a significant hole in protecting your business, and construction professionals could miss even more than crime prevention. Leaders in many industries are maximizing their use of intelligent video surveillance for more than security to better understand other areas of business operations.Leaders in many industries are maximizing their use of intelligent video surveillance for more than security to better understand other areas of business operations.Leaders in many industries are maximizing their use of intelligent video surveillance for more than security to better understand other areas of business operations.Pro Vigil

Some examples include real-time information about jobsite conditions (eg, weather), employee performance, whether deliveries are being made on time, and beyond. It can also provide important legal validation in the event of liability claims, such as slips and falls or even vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-person accidents at your site.

There is no doubt that construction crime continues to rise. But implementing these quick and easy security tips will go a long way to deterring it and keeping your site, project, and business safe. And they can even help you improve operations in the process.

Jeremy White is the founder of Pro-Vigil.

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