How to Prevent Construction Theft on Your Build Sites

September 4, 2018

Construction sites are a frequent arena for people to steal from. Whether its stealing equipment, taking equipment for joy rides, or taking materials that aren’t theirs, construction build sites get hit all the time, and site managers and foremen are having to add more security to their budgets and bids to be sure things don’t get taken or vandalized. Added costs mean bidding higher, which can mean those frugal clients are going to frown. Besides this, current projects get delayed, and insurance premiums go up.

So what is a construction company to do when they are on a budget, trying to cut costs, or simply trying to keep construction theft from happening? Easy. Get a combination storage and mobile office container or rent a few storage containers that can handle the “perils” of a construction building site without a second thought.

Construction Security is Expensive

Unfortunately, construction security is expensive. Between on-site personnel, fencing, cameras, security alarm companies, etc. the costs quickly add up. But many believe its worth it because those amounts can pale in comparison to the amounts that add up from construction material and construction equipment theft. In fact, it adds up to as high as $1 billion dollars per year in the United States, alone.

Also unfortunate is that since productivity and speed are top of mind for most construction companies, manufacturers create equipment that is rather easy to get into and take, with the creation of nearly identical keys for the heavy machinery found on any build site. They create them this way so it's easier for employees to get into the machines and work, however, it also means thieves can easily do the same thing, stealing the equipment to never return.

Why not make the keys more machine-specific? It would delay workers. Lost keys means lost work hours. The manufacturers are only responding to their customers’ wants and needs. And with wheeled/tracked and towable equipment being the largest percentage of items stolen (71%), it means construction site managers really need to know how to protect their machines (and materials). And regrettably, in 2016, both Oklahoma and Arkansas made it into the top ten states where construction theft is the worst, representing 63% of all construction thefts in the United States of America.

wheel graphs showing 36% and 35%

Top Ten Pieces of Equipment Stolen

According to UCIT Security, the top ten pieces of stolen construction equipment are:

  1. Mower, riding or garden tractor - 43%
  2. Tractor - 12%
  3. Loaders (Skid Steers/Bak hoes/Wheelers loaders)
  4. Excavator - 3%
  5. Forklift - 2%
  6. Generator, compressor & welder - 2%
  7. Bulldozer - 1%
  8. Light Tower - 0.5%
  9. Brush Chipper - 0.5%
  10. Others - 17%

But Construction Delays and Insurance Premiums are Expensive, too sadly, when construction thefts hit your build site, you end up losing equipment or materials that you needed in order for the job to get done. This means you have to replace what was stolen, and move on, or wait for insurance to replace it so you can move forward (because let’s face it. You’re not getting that stuff back. Only 25% of stolen equipment is recovered every year). And how quickly can you recover this lost time? What about the vehicles, equipment, materials, or tools? If you have the budget, maybe it’s quick, so you don’t lose time. But it means more money up front (if you have it) to get the equipment back so you can finish. And if you’re having to wait for the insurance company to replace what was lost, you could be looking at weeks to months. This means the project gets pushed out. This means less money lost, but it could threaten the contract, which would just be another kick to the.. Gut. Ultimately, any construction theft means more time or money when those things are already at a premium.

And speaking of premiums; Let’s not forget about the insurance premiums that go up as a result of stolen items and claims that you process for them. Just like when you get into a car accident, insurance companies pass along those costs back to you, the customer. So now, not only have the thieves cost you time and money during the project, but now the repercussions will follow you for quite a while afterward, too. What a waste!

Luckily, these construction thefts can be prevented and prevented affordably, which prevents delays and increased insurance premiums.

How to Prevent Construction Theft on Your Build Sites

While many in the industry may consider construction theft a small issue, (everything can get replaced, right?) it can be easily prevented, which will help overall production times and budgetary concerns, and every manager wants to lower costs while increasing productivity.

  1. Lock up keys. Even Lo-Jack recommends construction managers lock up site keys, and maybe even off site. We recommend locking everything up in a Tuff Box.
  2. Circle up large equipment. Circling larger machines around smaller equipment, materials, and vehicles can help prevent someone from coming along and trying to hook things up to their hitch to tow or drive away.
  3. Get specialized locks. Tuff Box offers specialized locks and lock guards on all of our rental fleet storage containers. This helps prevent construction theft on any construction project site.
  4. Chain up what you can. Weaving chains through smaller equipment and materials, when you can, then applying locks, can help deter thieves looking for a quick buck.
  5. Store materials inside. Don’t leave material laying around if you can keep from it. Obviously there will always be fairly large items that you can’t help but leave out, but boards, chemicals, concrete, hand tools and other items can be easily locked up and put out of the way (which also protects them from the weather outdoors).
  6. Keep good records. Keeping thorough records of inventory, as well as identification numbers on equipment and heavy machinery will help aid law enforcement in recovering your items.

Overall, there are multiple ways that you can prevent theft on your construction sites that are budget-friendly and easy to implement. However there are more effective ways to curb thieves from stealing from you. If you’re interested in hearing more about our rental storage containers or mobile offices, call us at 855-861-2872.

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