Jobsite theft continues to be a major challenge for all contractors with industry experts estimating annual losses at roughly $1 billion to $2 billion in the residential construction sector alone. Meanwhile, the National Equipment Register estimates annual thefts of heavy equipment, such as bulldozers and skid-steers, at $300 million to $1 billion – with only 10% of all stolen equipment ever being recovered. Contractors, equipment dealers, and insurers all suffer when jobsites are vandalized or equipment and materials are stolen. In what starts a vicious cycle, a stolen piece of equipment or material can shut the jobsite down temporarily adding to indirect costs for the contractor. Rental equipment companies may refuse to rent to contractors who don’t properly safeguard their assets. And finally, insurance premiums are bound to rise for all parties to mitigate losses associated with equipment theft.
The phenomenon of theft and vandalism of construction sites is not new and not limited to any one region. This is a national problem that will most likely only get worse over time. Whether we like it or not, jobsite theft is here to stay and the industry must focus on limiting the incidents as much as possible by making it difficult for the perpetrators to succeed.
Contractors can demonstrate commitment to stopping theft and vandalism on their sites by following these tips:
- Inventory Assets and Property. All assets on a construction site should be identified, inventoried, and tracked as closely as practical.
- Enlist Neighborhood Support. A company representative should contact neighbors around the jobsite to solicit their support in maintaining a safe and secure jobsite.
- Control Keys. Keys should be issued to as few people as possible. A log of issued keys should be maintained which includes the type of key issued, to whom, on what date, and for what purpose.
- Lock Gates after Hours. The number of gates on the jobsite should be kept to a minimum. If possible and practical to do so, uniformed guards should be utilized during working hours to check vehicles entering and leaving the jobsite. Gates should be closed and locked at night and on weekends.
- Secure Tools and Equipment When Not in Use. Storage sheds or fenced areas should be provided on the jobsite for the secure storage of tools and equipment. When vehicular equipment is not in use, ignition keys should be removed and the cabs locked.
- Engrave Construction Equipment in at least two obvious and one hidden location.
- Install Motion Activated Lighting. Lighting can be an effective deterrent to theft and vandalism on the site. Lighting systems triggered by a motion detector are recommended as such lighting gives the impression an intrusion has been detected and might also warn neighbors of potential intruders.
- Fence the Jobsite. Ideally, the entire jobsite should be enclosed in sturdy fencing topped with multiple strands of barbed wire. If it is not practical to enclose the entire site, at a minimum the area around trailers and material storage should be enclosed.
- Hire a Security Company. It might be advisable to employ the services of a bonded and insured security company either to maintain guard staff on-site or to conduct periodic patrols of the construction jobsite.
Although this list might be lengthy, the time spent reading these tips and implementing them could save you a lot of time and money.