Construction site security is facing an unprecedented challenge with a 50% increase in theft since the start of the coronavirus lockdown.  

This surge in crime is happening alongside the fastest decline in UK construction output in 23 years. With so many builders across the country forced to shut down their sites, it is no surprise that 82.2% of their workforce has been furloughed – leaving valuable assets unattended. It is clear that opportunistic criminals are targeting these sites to gain access to these assets. 

An ongoing problem

Despite these worsening statistics, it is a well-known fact that construction site security has been an ongoing problem for some time, costing the industry an estimated £800m per year. This is a conservative figure considering that some crimes go unreported. 

In a survey carried out by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), as many as 92% of respondents confirmed they had been affected by theft, and 21% of respondents reported weekly site robberies.

Where possible, these assets need to be removed or protected and construction site security must be put in place. 

Why is construction site security such a problem?

There are two main incentives that seem to lure criminals into committing construction theft. The first is that expensive, heavy machinery and building tools can be sold on for a hefty profit. The second is because the chance of recovering plant machinery in the UK is just 9%. When you compare this to the 50-60% recovery rate of motor vehicles it is obvious why construction theft has surged in recent months. 

It is also a well-known fact that construction sites are viewed as easy targets. The reason for this is because they often lack the necessary security and do not have proper loss prevention practices in place. Some of the leading causes of construction site theft include the following:

  • Overall site security is poor
  • Cabs, sheds, or containers are left open which provides easy access to thieves
  • Multiple pieces of equipment share the same keys
  • Job sites are left unsecured – particularly at night and over weekends
  • Product identification systems are lacking

What is the cost of construction theft?

The cost of replacing missing equipment is more complicated than what one may think. When construction companies are hit by theft it’s not just the new equipment that they need to pay for, but the cost of hiring new equipment in the interim in order to continue working. Lost productivity and schedule delays can also lead to expensive penalties. There is also the additional increase in insurance premiums to factor in and the time spent having to file police reports and insurance claims.

How to prevent construction site theft

Removing keys from ignitions and using padlocks and chains is often not enough of a deterrent to keep opportunistic thieves at bay. The key to preventing construction theft is deterrence. Make it difficult for thieves to quickly gain access to your equipment by keeping your construction equipment in a well-lit and fenced in area. Equip the site with security cameras and use locks and immobilization devices to make moving the equipment harder. Here are some additional measures that can be taken.

  • Implement a controlled entry and exit system.
  • Invest in staff training to ensure working practices. If staff are made aware of the risks more will be done to minimise theft.
  • Secure on-site vehicles and machinery.
  • Purchase site security barriers to reduce the ‘openness’ of your site.
  • Invest in deterrents such as CCTV.
  • Use bright lighting to make it difficult for thieves to conceal their identity.
  • Invest in wider security such as immobilisers and tracking systems.

Unfortunately, with extra security comes an additional price tag but choosing not to invest in such measures is a sure way to attract opportunists. 

A Smart Solution

Smarter Technologies’ Orion Data Network uses innovative technology that enables you to have complete control and visibility to track, monitor and recover your assets in real-time. 

The network integrates with other security items such as CCTV cameras to secure remote areas and perimeters with PIR sensors, panic alarms and other alert systems to create a comprehensive global daily auditing system.

This state-of-the-art system not only significantly reduces construction site risks but also saves time and costs. 

How does it work?

Simple and fast to install, our privately-owned Orion Data Network is a long-range, low-power system of gateways with GPS and non-GPS tags for real-time asset tracking, monitoring and recovery. The system gives you complete control and visibility to track, monitor and recover your assets, with real-time data feedback on location, tampering, temperature, shock and movement.

To find out more about how Smarter Technologies’ construction site solutions can benefit your business, contact us today.