construction site theft

Ways to prevent construction site theft

Construction site theft is a real problem.  New building projects attract a considerable amount of attention.  Some are curious to see a new building’s skeleton, and then there are others looking to turn a profit off of stealing the site’s equipment and materials.  Developers, general contractors, and owners face the daily challenge of having the right construction site security.  How can you prevent construction site theft? Here are several things that you can do to prevent crime at your construction site. 

Install And Maintain A Fence Line

fenced in security camera area

Fences should be installed starting from the excavation stage.  The fencing needs to surround the entire site.  Do not limit the fenceline to the area that your equipment staging area or storage containers.  The fencing needs to be a complete barricade around the entire jobsite. It also should be at least 8 feet high.  If someone can easily climb over the fence, they will climb it. Adding the extra height and even using barbed wire at the top will add that much more of a deterrent to your security. Yes, it will take a bit longer to install, and it can be a hassle at times, but if it prevents even one theft, it’s more than worth the cost. 

It would be best if you also inspected the fencing regularly. Your fence line is only as good as the weakest link.  A damaged fence is about as good as no fence at all.  It shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes to walk around the site to look over the fencing.   It is best to check your fence for holes at the start and end of the day. 

Remember Your Lock

security lock at construction site

It should go without saying, but lock your fence. You have the security gate that opens and closes for your vehicles. Make sure it is locked when not in use.  Only use locks that come with unique keys or combinations that you can change as needed.  You don’t want a lock that has a universal key used with every lock sold.  Many crimes are prevented by the simple act of locking the gate.  


construction security lighting

The amount of lighting you’re allowed at night might depend on the regulations of your location.  However, construction sites should use as much light as rules allow. You don’t need to blind the neighborhood, but keeping the site well lit at night will help reduce the possibility of theft.  Lighting also provides for passersby to notice someone inside the building at night. 

In general, it is best to have complete floodlighting and not just motion detection lighting.  Motion detection can be used in the interior.  Their should be floodlights illuminating the exterior.  The the purpose of the fence and the lighting is to alert would-be thieves that the area is bright and they will be seen. If someone is thinking about stealing something from the site, the knowledge of always-on lighting might frighten them away from your site.  However, if they’ve already jumped a fence and then the lighting kicks on, they might continue with the theft simply because they are already inside. 

Video Surveillance

video surveillance camera

Video surveillance might be one of the best ways to prevent someone from breaking into your construction site.  When people steal from construction sites, they do so because they can get in and get out quickly without being spotted. Usually, they aim to steal power tools or high-value materials like copper.   Criminals do not want anyone to see them.  Criminals know that cameras will see them and provide evidence that will help the police identify them. 

You first need to make everyone aware that cameras are watching your site.  Warning signs accomplish that task.  Install video surveillance warning signs at multiple points around the fencing. Video cameras primary purpose is preventing crime.  The presence of cameras warn would-be criminals that they will be seen.  It is always better to prevent crime than to catch the thieves red-handed.  Make sure some of the cameras are highly visible. Visible cameras let people know the signs are not just a bluff.  The only challenge with traditional video surveillance cameras is that they easily be made ineffective by thieves wearing masks.  Monitored video surveillance systems are a better option.  

Monitored Video Surveillance

video surveillance monitoring center

Monitored video surveillance takes video surveillance to the next level. With this method, a security professional is remotely monitoring the video feed in real-time.  As soon as the camera detects motion, the person watching the site can sound an alarm and call the police.  Most video surveillance companies like ours monitor surveillance cameras from a command center.  Essentially they are like a virtual security guard that can simultaneously watch the entire site from multiple angles.  Monitored video surveillance cameras are the most effective way to prevent construction site theft.   

Mark Your Tools

construction tool theft

Mark all of your power tools with your brand or theft warning.  Be sure to mark the tools in both noticeable and less prominent locations. Marking the tools will help you identify them if they are stolen.  Anyone can claim a Milwaukee drill is theirs, but if your company’s logo is tapped into the battery compartment, there’s no denying it’s yours. 

Marking also makes it difficult for thieves to sell the tools to pawnshops.  Pawnshops don’t want to deal with stolen goods. They know that they will lose the money they paid for the tools if the police return the item to the owner.  Pawnshops are also concerned about possible criminal charges.  When they see the company markings on the devices, it makes them less likely to buy them.  Most criminals try to flip these kinds of items quickly.  Be sure to notify the police and local pawn shops immediately after a theft.   Also, keep an eye out on Craigslist. If a criminal is foolish enough to break into your worksite and take your equipment, they might be stupid enough to list the items on Craigslist.  Police officers find this to happen fairly often. 

Security Guards

security guard

For some locations, hiring a security guard may be the best option.  Security guards provide the benefit of watching for theft, fire, and safety issues.  Guards can be watchful for safety issues that video cameras do not observe.  Guard can also fulfill fire watch duties if you need it.  Of course, these benefits only apply if the guard is doing their job.  Unfortunately, you always run the risk of having a security guard fall asleep on the job or even leave your site in the middle of the night and return in the morning.  Hiring security guards also has a higher price tag than the other crime prevention options. 

Offer Rewards

construction crime prevention reward

Most people do not steal from construction sites by themselves.  Fortunately, there is no honor among thieves.  Posting reward signs for information about thefts makes would-be criminals worry that their partners in crime or friends will turn them in.  It is vital to post the signs before crimes occur.  The idea that someone can get paid to report the theft is usually enough to deter crime.  However, if a crime happens, the reward encourages people to tell what they know. 

Insure Your Gear

construction site theft insurance

Getting insurance for your equipment doesn’t precisely help stop the theft of valuable work equipment, but it will help with some of the money you spend on replacing this kind of equipment. One theft can result in thousands of dollars worth of equipment in one night.  By ensuring the equipment, you can have some peace of mind knowing you will receive the value of the tools given back to you to purchase replacements.  At the very least, you can cover the cost to rent replacement equipment while you attempt to recover what was stolen.

Protect Your Work Site

Construction site theft is a challenge faced by every construction site, regardless of where it is located. You can limit or completely stop theft from your work sites by following through with these tips. There are many options, from installing and maintaining a fence line to video surveillance equipment.   Construction sites see the best results by combining security measures resulting in a multi-layered approach to preventing construction site crime.

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