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Reducing construction equipment theft



Construction Site Theft

A major problem construction sites face is equipment theft—an inconvenient and costly dilemma. In 2016, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB) complied 11,754 reports of stolen equipment with only 21 percent of equipment recovered. Stealing construction equipment is a low-risk, high-reward opportunity for thieves, due to the fact that many construction sites are left unsecure. 

There’s no national database for construction equipment like there is for road vehicles with titles and registrations, therefore selling stolen equipment to unsuspecting buyers is much easier.

According to the National Equipment Register (NER), “the average estimated value of a stolen piece of equipment is $29,958.” The NER estimates that the value of construction equipment stolen each year is between $300 million and $1 billion. This number excludes tools and building materials which are also often targeted by thieves. The most stolen items from construction sites are heavy equipment, utility trailers, lumber, mortar mixers, hand and power tools. 

Stolen equipment is costly for many reasons. In addition to the cost of the stolen property, the owner will have to rent replacement equipment to keep the project on time or risk delays which can result in more unexpected costs and even penalties. Investing in security measures is extremely important to keep expensive equipment safe. A few safety tips are:

  • Keep construction equipment in well-lit and fenced areas
  • Use surveillance cameras to monitor the equipment
  • Lock and immobilize equipment during off-work hours
  • Attach anti-theft devices, such as steering wheel locks, kill switches and locked hood side plates

In well-lit areas, smart cameras can detect unusual activity or movement. When this occurs an alert can be sent to the owner’s phone who can view the live stream. If the equipment is not in a well-lit area, the best safety measure is to install thermal cameras. Thermal cameras can detect an approaching person, object, or vehicle in total darkness or through sun glare, fog, rain and smoke. They’re equipped with long-range detection, sharp images and high-performing video analytics which can reduce false alarms. Thermal cameras are a great option because they are useful in dark situations when the theft is mostly likely to occur.

It’s important to take the necessary precautions when securing a construction site. Hiring security guards for night control isn’t always the most economically viable option. The best solutions involve keeping detailed equipment and stock inventory, employee background checks and advanced property surveillance.