The Real Cost of Construction Site Theft

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construction site theft
CLICK TO SEE FULL SIZEAs a construction manager, your top two priorities on any job are the safety of your people and the safety of your site. Whether you’re a seasoned vet or a rookie in the field of construction management, two things are always true: You need people to do the work, and you need the right equipment and materials to complete the job.

Safety is a common topic on construction sites. But what happens if you don’t follow through on your goal of keeping your materials and equipment safe? When this occurs, you run the risk of losing money on the job. According to the National Equipment Register (NER), heavy equipment theft has been on the rise with 11,625 thefts being reported to law enforcement in 2014. Whether it’s stipulated that you cover the cost out of your budget or your company covers it out of theirs, someone loses money when construction site theft occurs.

The National Equipment Register (NER) estimates the value of construction equipment stolen each year is somewhere between $300 million to $1 billion. Fortunately, you have the power to create an atmosphere where theft isn’t an option.

Below are three strategies you can implement today to keep your job site free from criminal activity.

Get friendly with your local police department.

Whether you’re new to the area or you’ve contributed to building half the town, it’s important to keep a good relationship with the folks who can help you. If you’re using any type of human surveillance, having a relationship with those whose job it is to protect your job site can go a long way.

Less than 25% of stolen construction equipment is recovered each year. As you know, part of the recovery process is follow-up and trying out theories of where the equipment could be — an act that can be tiresome and easy to put off for those in charge of it.  Having a rapport with those who can help you could be the answer to getting help when times are tough.

Know the hot commodities of your market.

Think about this: if you had five minutes to identify five prized possessions a burglar would want to take from your home, you could probably come up with a list. It’s safe to assume that those things should either be in a safe-deposit box or tucked away somewhere that isn’t easy to spot. In the construction world, these “prized possessions” would likely be pieces of heavy equipment or expensive materials.

construction site theftThieves usually look for anything they can sell or flip in the stolen goods market. Therefore, you should take extra-special care to secure and monitor these things while on the job. According to the LoJack Corporation’s “2016 Construction Equipment Theft Recovery Report, the type of construction equipment most commonly stolen is wheeled and tracked loaders. Knowing what equipment and materials are most popular among thieves can help you keep an eye on these important pieces.

Create your own background checks.

If you’ve managed a few construction sites before in the same area, it’s likely you’ll start to see some familiar faces when coming to work every day, even if the job and locale changes. After some time, it’s possible that the people that work for you on the job or with you at the same company, will begin to feel like friends. This is the perfect scenario for theft. Anywhere from 30% – 85% of job site theft results from someone that you authorize to be on your job site, perhaps even someone you know well.

Along with a standard background check, it’s important to come up with your own system of “checks” when allowing people to enter your job site. These checks might include calling references, checking them out on social media before they’re hired, or a combination of both and other tactics. No matter what, making sure the job site is safe from anyone who has committed theft in the past is one way to avoid theft in the future.

As a construction manager, preventing theft is an essential part of your job. Not only can theft cost you a tangible loss, it can also take away your confidence or reputation. Creating a good relationship with local law enforcement, knowing the market for stolen construction equipment, and staying vigilant in the comings and goings of your team will go a long way towards reducing theft.

Want to find out other ways to prevent theft at your job site? Click here to learn more about remote monitoring services.

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