What is openly accessible, contains thousands of dollars of unmarked materials and equipment, and loses billions of dollars in thefts each year? Here’s a hint: It starts with “construction” and ends with “sites.”
With the pandemic and supply train issues, construction costs soared and have been slow to come back down—if they have at all. The ever-rising costs have made the theft of equipment and materials even more lucrative for wrongdoers and even more costly for honest contractors.
Construction site security is vital, especially given that that the industry loses up to an estimated $1 billion a year in equipment alone (and that number isn’t including material losses, which easily tags on millions, if not billions more annually).
Fortunately, there are ways to decrease the odds that your site will be next. While no method is completely thief-proof, here are 10 tools you can use to reduce the likelihood of theft at your jobsite.
1. Construction Site Security Cameras
One of the most powerful tools in a construction company’s security arsenal is surveillance cameras. Using the right technology, construction site security cameras are able to pan, tilt, zoom, see in the dark, detect motion, send alerts, allow you to monitor from anywhere, and adapt to whatever your needs might be. In the unfortunate case a theft does occur at your jobsite, the cameras are also able to provide footage of the crime to aid with the investigation.
Construction site cameras—especially when displayed openly—are a clear message to would-be thieves and trespassers that this site takes its security seriously.
Mobile security units are typically the best choice for construction sites as they provide their own power source and do not require Wi-Fi to connect to the cloud. In addition to being incredibly easy to set up and transport to new locations as needed, LVT Units include mounted cameras, loudspeakers, lights, and more.
Open jobsites offer easy access, allowing passing thieves to deviate from their course only slightly to stop and snag smaller materials or tools. Erecting a fence around your jobsite with limited entrance points (ideally, only one designated entrance point for easier monitoring) is an effective way to deter snatch-and-grabs.
Well-constructed fences with controlled access make it more difficult to remove larger materials and equipment from your site, automatically prompting thieves to search for easier marks.
Since construction sites typically host a number of different workers, it can sometimes be difficult for others to spot those who don’t belong. If your intruder has to climb a fence to access the area, however, it’s a dead giveaway that that person shouldn’t be there, making it easier for employees and others to spot trespassers and alert law enforcement.
3. Geofencing/GPS Tracking
While physical fencing provides a solid, obvious barrier, there’s another type of fencing that can also make a difference: geofencing.
Geofencing creates a digital perimeter around the jobsite and can be set so corresponding equipment doesn’t operate outside of that perimeter. The technology can also alert when equipment is in use outside of normal operating hours.
In addition to geofencing, equipment and large pallets of materials can be equipped with GPS tracking, enabling you to monitor and track locations (plus a variety of other features). Aware that such tracking would disrupt their operations, some thieves even take the measure of keeping stolen goods in an abandoned parking lot for a few days to see if the owner is able to track and recover it.
4. Locks and Movement Prevention
One of the more tempting aspects of construction site materials is their portability. With jobsites constantly changing, materials and tools are designed to be moved. This is great for builders, but even better for thieves.
Removing some of the portability aspect of materials and tools can make it significantly less convenient for unauthorized personnel to hitch up and take off with items that aren’t theirs. This can be done in a number of ways:
- Use a locked storage container for storing smaller tools and materials when the site is shut down for the night.
- Do NOT store keys inside of the heavy machinery it’s paired with.
- Disable heavy machinery in non-obvious ways so it isn’t easy to start up and drive off with.
- Park equipment in an interlocking circle (requiring several drivers to work together) so individual machines can’t be removed after the workday is over. Place smaller pieces (such as generators) in the center of the circle so they are more difficult to remove.
- Remove or disable trailer hitches when the trailer or piece of equipment is not scheduled to be moved.
Thieves love their anonymity, so it makes sense that they’re big fans of darkness. Unless you have night vision or thermal imaging construction site security cameras, it’s extremely difficult to spot nighttime trespassers. Culprits often know the location of what they’re stealing (either because they’ve scouted the site beforehand or, unfortunately, they are one of the employees working at the site).
Bright lighting at the site takes this advantage out of the equation.
In addition, bright strobe lights triggered by motion detection serves as a warning that the trespassers are being monitored and warns them off the property.
If there’s anything would-be thieves hate as much as light, it’s really loud noises alerting others to their wrong-doing. Alarms connected to motion detectors instantly alert nearby people that something is wrong and alert the trespassers that their presence hasn’t gone unnoticed.
LVT Units can be equipped with both alarms and flashing lights, which are both connected to the construction site camera’s advanced motion-sensing technology.
7. Recording and Registering
It’s much easier to protect your assets when you know exactly where everything should be. With workers coming and going throughout the day, the easiest way to do this is to keep logs of who should be using what equipment and when. Materials can also be logged as they arrive onsite and as they are used.
Unlike cars, heavy machinery doesn’t have a standardized and automatic registration system, making them easier to steal and resell. The National Equipment Register tries to combat this by offering a registration system that can be used in conjunction with law enforcement efforts to recover stolen equipment. You can register your heavy machinery for a small annual fee.
8. Planning Deliveries
While buying in bulk can be a way to save on materials, it also gives a bigger target to steal, particularly if large quantities of materials are simply sitting onsite unused. Be careful to only buy materials as you need them or buy in bulk as you are able to securely store the excess material.
Plan deliveries as you need materials so tempting targets don’t sit unused for long periods of time.
9. Cleaning and Organization
Keeping your jobsite clean and organized may not seem like a way to secure your materials at first glance, but the cleanliness of your jobsite has a direct connection to your security efforts.
Construction comes with its fair share of trash and scraps, but clearing these away on a regular basis makes it easier to monitor your site for anything missing or out of place. Keeping your materials well organized also allows you to easily find and track materials as needed and to know instantly if things are not as they should be.
A disorganized, sloppy site is a thief’s dream. Why? Because no one is going to notice if something is missing if nothing has a clear place to begin with.
10. Response Plans and Employee Training
While some security measures have some effectiveness on their own (such as fences and motion-triggered lights and sirens), it’s important to remember that these security measures only achieve their true potential if monitored and acted upon. Police are much faster to respond to a crime in progress than a crime that has already happened, increasing the likelihood that they will stop the perpetrator and recover the materials.
Keep your employees safe and your jobsite secure by knowing how to react according to each situation and training your employees to identify and properly respond in the case of thefts and other emergencies.