Every year almost one billion dollars in materials and equipment are stolen from construction job sites with only about a quarter of that ever being recovered. 

From large machinery like excavators and MEWPs (Mobile elevated work platforms) to small power tools and hand tools, virtually every job site is crowded with expensive equipment that is used daily. 

This creates tempting opportunities for thieves and vandals, especially when a construction site is not well monitored. The most common targets of theft include lumber, metal, small supplies, tools and heavy equipment. The pandemic has increased prices of many supplies dramatically, providing more inspiration for would-be thieves. Workers can accidentally or purposefully carry tools off site and sub-contractors my take advantage of open access to the job site. 

With theft of any kind comes delays to the work schedule. There is the additional expense of paying someone to go out and get the equipment to be replaced, leading to additional costs and wasted time and manpower.

What to do

Hiring security guards can be helpful but are expensive if that is your only approach. Security guards are limited by what kinds of technology they can draw on to monitor their area. Putting together a multi-pronged, well thought out security strategy that utilizes the best of all approaches is the best way to secure your site and save yourself money in the long term.

Using video cameras and other technologies can immediately provide benefits and help deter thieves when supplemented with good lighting, automated alarms and tracking systems. Installing security cameras by itself can act as a deterrent because many crimes are crimes of opportunity. If a site appears to be well monitored, it won’t be as appealing to casual thieves. 

Consider solar-powered high quality cameras that are good at recording at night and are weatherproof. (-not “weather resistant”) Higher resolution cameras will provide more detail, so that facial details can be documented clearly.

Tracking Tech

Sensors similar to Apple’s Air Tags can be installed on tools and other gear to provide tracking if something turns up missing. GPS style telematics can help with larger items.

One company that used telematics equipment arrived at its jobsite to find its skid steer had been stolen. Managers were able to ping the equipment and get the coordinates and an address where the machine had been moved. The foreman and superintendent arrived at the location and the sheriff released the equipment back to the company. Telematics equipment saved the company from purchasing a new skid steer.*

Use of these tracking technologies can be integrated by software so that the process of checking gear in and out is constantly updated and not managed with a paper log which can be lost or in the wrong place when needed.

Security Checklist:

  • Keep your job site well organized and clean as possible. Cluttered sites make it easy to lose track of supplies and equipment.
  • Install high quality security cameras.
  • Make sure the site is WELL LIGHTED!
  • Post signs saying that the site is monitored 24/7.
  • Track arrival and departure of all personnel. Knowing exactly who was on the grounds when a theft occurs helps dramatically narrow the range of suspects.
  • Use tracking technologies appropriate to the equipment and supplies.

Remember, no single solution will be effective on its own. Make sure you have a comprehensive plan for every job site and save yourself headaches and money over time!