Theft of construction equipment continues to be a major concern for site managers across the UK, with 92% of them reporting that they are affected by theft either weekly, monthly or yearly. Stealing equipment is a relatively low-risk but high-reward prospect for would-be thieves, particularly where security measures are inadequate and the recovery rates of stolen items are as low as 9%.
With the UK construction industry losing, on average, £400 million per year due to theft and other common crimes, understanding the risks and how to effectively prevent them is vital.
We discuss three of the most vulnerable items on construction sites, and the measures you should be taking to prevent theft from taking place.
1. Small tools
Small tools, such as hammers and saws, are frequently left lying around on a construction site, making them an easy target for opportunistic thieves (and sometimes site workers themselves) to steal. With smaller items, it is certainly less noticeable if something goes missing. However, although each piece may be low cost and easily replaceable, over time this can set you back a pretty penny.
2. Power tools
According to research, the single most common items stolen from construction sites are power tools. This is unsurprising, given that power tool items tend to be worth a fair amount of money, and many people will be willing to purchase them second-hand without raising important questions, like where the tools came from and why they are being sold at a much lower price.
You only have to carry out a simple Google search on “power tools theft” to see the breadth of the problem, which takes place up and down the country every week.
3. Plant machinery
Machinery on construction sites is costly, which means it is very lucrative if re-sold. Heavy machinery, such as bulldozers, are however, difficult to move, meaning they are less frequently stolen. They still account for a small percentage of site thefts though, so it is still important to not overlook them when securing your equipment.
What you can do to prevent construction site theft
- Sign yourself up to The Equipment Register and record all the details of your plant and equipment on the database. If items go missing, they are much more easily tracked and returned to you.
- Employ SIA security guards to patrol the site, particularly when out-of-hours. Manned guards act as a deterrent and can help with verification checks of employees or visitors, as well as restricting vehicle access.
- Only allow authorised staff, visitors and suppliers onto the site. Access control systems are a brilliant, modern way to prevent unauthorised access.
- Carry out regular employee background checks, including issuing smart CSCS cards to site workers.
- Prevent fuel theft by having fuel tank alarms fitted.
- Invest in high-quality lighting and fencing systems.
- If tools are left onsite overnight, they should be securely stored away.
- All tools should be marked with identification marks which make them easily recognisable in the case of theft.
- Tools and machinery should be tagged and registered with Construction Equipment Security and Registration Scheme (CESAR)
- Remove keys from vehicles and machinery when left unattended and invest in immobilising equipment to prevent theft.
- Always immediately report any behaviour you feel is suspicious. Likewise, report theft of equipment right away. This protects yourself during the insurance claims process, and also improves chances of equipment being returned to you.
- Ensure all staff working onsite are properly trained on how to keep items secure, properly stored away and marked. Also make sure they know what to do in the event of theft e.g. how to report something stolen and who to speak to.
- Invest in site-wide construction site security systems, including wireless video detection and CCTV. Only have these fitted by a professional security installer.
- Keep all security systems, perimeter fencing and lighting well-maintained and up-to-date.
- Be wary of anyone selling second-hand plant and equipment at low prices, especially if they cannot prove they are the owner of it. If you see anything which raises your suspicions, report it to the police.
- There are several Facebook groups which you can now join to help others recover stolen equipment. If you see something odd, post it in there too.