According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the number of thefts on construction sites rises along with the temperatures during the summer months. The top 5 states for theft of construction equipment account for 40% of the overall number of construction site thefts in the US. Thieves are also target building materials and vehicles as well as equipment. The summer months are the busiest time for thieves to raid construction sites as the industry is more active in the season due to the cooperative weather, longer days and the end of crop growth cycles.
Naming crime rings as the major culprits, the NICB states that these criminals are generally advanced, efficient and successful when it comes to moving heavy, expensive equipment. In their 2011 Heavy Equipment Theft Report, NICB estimates that as much as $1 billion in metals and equipment is stolen from construction sites each year. Here at Netwatch we protect many construction sites across the US and have seen first-hand just how popular construction theft has become.
Heavy equipment is often seen as an easy target for any number of reasons; it’s often stationed unattended in remote locations, single keys can work on multiple machines and many people do not employ basic preventative measures.
The stolen equipment is shipped to other countries leaving it untraceable in most instances- approximately only 10% of stolen machinery is recovered, according to the NICB. International law enforcement agencies use a standard worldwide 17-digit product PIN number to identify stolen vehicles, however prevention is the most essential thing in regards to theft.
At Netwatch, our half year crime report showed that construction industry theft accounts for 25% of all recorded incidents and we recommend that site owners take the following preventative measures:
- Check perimeter- Check the fencing around the perimeter of your site and make sure there are no easy access areas for intruders.
- Have good lighting on site during dark hours- Most thefts happen under cover of darkness in the late hours of the evening. Thieves have nowhere to hide if you use good lighting to keep your site visible.
- Be organised- Tracking keys, equipment and building equipment can often be a bit of a mess on a site even though it’s essential for good security. It’s also important to keep tabs on the use of equipment and tools on site.
- Don’t make the thieves’ job easier- Make it difficult for thieves to move your equipment and consider using wheel and sleeve locks. Strategically positioning equipment to make it harder to steal is also effective. Cluster big, heavy equipment around smaller vehicles and hardware as a preventative measure.
- Check locks- Always check all doors are locked and don’t assume somebody else will. If it’s a big site, assign certain areas for certain people to inspect. Leaving something unlocked makes it too easy for theft to happen.
- Serial numbers- Record equipment serial numbers so that they can be tracked
- Storage- Store materials in a locked garage or warehouse not an unsecure area. The longer it takes to steal, the less likely it is to be taken.