From building materials to tools to heavy equipment, construction site theft is an industry-wide epidemic. In addition to the direct costs of replacing the stolen goods, there is also the indirect cost due to increased insurance premiums, rental costs to replace stolen equipment and lost productivity. Delays in production can also result in hefty fines if deadlines are not met. While no concrete numbers are available, most industry experts estimate that losses due to construction site theft reach $1 billion or more annually.
The key is to prevention is making it as hard as possible for would-be thieves to quickly make off with your tools, equipment and materials. Following these five tips will go a long way in helping you avoid becoming a victim of construction site theft.
Enforce your theft prevention policy. Establish a theft prevention policy and ensure all employees and subcontractors are made aware of the rules and consequences for stealing. This can include borrowing tools for use on side jobs or after hours and removing scrap material for personal use or sale. Create a zero tolerance policy for offenders and inform employees and subcontractors that if caught you will seek prosecution. Work with local authorities so they know when workers are allowed to be on the site working and ask if they can perform extra patrols by your site during nonworking hours.
Secure your site. A well-lit, fenced-in construction site with posted “No Trespassing” signs is less likely to be targeted than one that is not. Secure your construction site by locking up tools and building materials in storage boxes and cargo trailers with heavy gauge, tamper resistant locks and chains. Maintain an inventory log of all materials, tools, equipment and keys to ensure that everything is accounted for at the end of each workday. Keep all keys in central and secured locations and a log of who checked them out.
Secure your equipment. Showing up at your construction site to find a front end loader missing can greatly affect your company’s bottom line. Securing your heavy equipment can be as simple and low tech as removing batteries or wheels, lowering blades and buckets, and locks designed to immobilize controls or to keep the wheels from moving in a straight line to more high-tech options such as alarms, fuel and ignition cut-off switches, geofencing using radio frequency identification and GPS tracking devices.
Keep detailed records. Equipment manufacturers adopted a standard worldwide 17-digit product identification number (PIN) system beginning with their year 2000 models. Have this number engraved or bead welded on two separate locations of the equipment, one obvious and one hidden, in order to easily identify your equipment in the event of a theft. Keep records of make, model and the serial number or PIN along with photos of each piece of equipment from multiple angles.
Register your equipment. Companies like the National Equipment Register or the Heavy Equipment Registration allow you to register your heavy equipment to aid law enforcement in recovering and returning your equipment when you’re the victim of theft. They free access to law enforcement to aid in the recovery of stolen equipment.
Taking these steps won’t guarantee your company will never have anything stolen, it will go a long way in deterring would-be thieves from targeting your construction site. To find out more on theft prevention and ways to secure your construction site, contact your local contractors’ theft prevention organization, local contractors’ association or law enforcement agency for more information.