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How to Prevent Copper and Lead Theft on Construction Sites

08/02/2019 in Security

The theft of equipment and materials from construction sites up and down the country continues to be an on-going problem, with an average of £400 million being lost by the industry each year as a direct result of theft and other crimes.

It is no longer just tools and machinery that are the target of thieves, in fact, metal materials like copper and lead, which are commonly found on construction sites, have also become increasingly attractive to thieves. These materials are of reasonably high value and are often difficult to track down once stolen, which is why opportunistic thieves continue to target sites that make it easy for them to access these metals.

When items are stolen on a construction site, the losses to the site owner go further than just the value of the metal. Other costs include the downtime and project overrun costs, as well as the need to replace the lost goods or rent them in the meantime. Moreover, insurance premiums may increase, and staff must take the time and effort to report the incidences to the relevant authorities.

We discuss several ways in which to help prevent the theft of precious metals from construction sites.

Inventory management

Having a thorough inventory system in place helps to quickly identify and keep a record of all onsite tools, equipment and higher-value materials. Although it is often difficult to mark metal materials in the same way as you would do with tools and equipment, keeping a track of them using photographs and inventory lists should still take place. You can do this by ensuring there is a paper trail with regards to every supply that arrives onsite, including when it is used and who by.

Secure the perimeter

The perimeter of the site should be properly secured using high-quality fencing and locking systems. These should be checked on a routine basis to make sure no damage has been done, which could make it easier for unauthorised people to enter.

When the last staff members leave for the evening, they should be trained in how to securely lock the entry points. To further deter access, clear, visible signs can be attached to fences stating that thieves will be prosecuted.

Thieves are particularly drawn to dark, unprotected sites where they can more easily sneak in undetected. As such, to deter unauthorised entry, construction sites should be kept well-lit, especially after-hours.

Schedule supplies only when necessary

It may be tempting to pre-order metal materials in bulk and store them onsite, but the sensible and most secure option is to schedule supplies only when they will be needed. This likely means you’ll have to communicate thoroughly with staff to accurately arrange deliveries so that the project doesn’t fall behind. In essence, having excess materials lying around just invites people (including onsite workers) to steal them.

Update your security

One of the smartest things you can do to prevent site crime is to review your current security plan and update or modernise your security measures accordingly. Site-wide construction site security systems can be implemented and may include CCTV, wireless video detection and SIA trained manned guards.

Access only to authorised staff

To ensure the best possible security for your site, biometric access control systems can be installed to help managers easily monitor who is coming in and out at any given time. They also provide other pieces of smart data, like how long people have stayed and whether someone is using a fake or expired ID card in an attempt to enter the site.

Likewise, it is important to carry out regular employee background checks, as well as ensuring only trained staff can work on the site. Issuing smart CSCS cards to all staff is, therefore, essential.

Many site owners and other staff tend to make the mistake of overlooking seemingly ordinary materials like copper, lead and aluminium when making security arrangements. However, these materials are worth more than one might think and savvy criminals know this, which is why they continue to take advantage of those sites that are lacking in the correct security measures. By being proactive and following the above advice, you can prevent your construction site from becoming another statistic!