The construction sector is particularly vulnerable to crime. Recent statistics put the annual cost of construction-site theft at around £800 million.
This is the case for a number of reasons. To begin with, plenty of valuable materials and tools are often left overnight on construction sites. These can be easily picked up and sold on the black market. Moreover, construction sites are inherently incomplete – and therefore easy for a would-be thief to walk into.
Finally, construction sites are often populated by contractors, many of whom are only present for a few days over the course of an entire project. It’s, therefore, more difficult for workers to recognize people who don’t belong.
So, what can be done to address this problem? There are a number of solutions.
When valuable tools are marked as the property of a given individual or company, they become more difficult to sell on the black market, and therefore less attractive to thieves. This marking can be done with welding or engraving tools, or it can be done digitally, using special tags built into the tool. Tools should be stored securely, and regularly inventoried so that you can be sure from the moment that they go missing.
Physically preventing thieves from getting into the site is a good idea. You might employ full-time security guards, and install anti-intrusion fences and gates. Biometric access control is in many ways superior to traditional locks and keys, as it allows for individuals to have their access restricted to certain hours, and prevents keys from being stolen or passed on to malicious third parties.
Alarms and CCTV will allow you to survey your site. Since there might not be any available wall to fix a camera to, and low-lying CCTV is vulnerable to sabotage, the solution here is often to invest in a dedicated construction-site camera. This usually comes in the form of a sealed generator, with a pole coming out of the top, at the top of which is a remote-controlled camera.
Among the most often-stolen pieces of equipment are vehicles, as these can be easily transported off the site. Fitting vehicles with hydraulic locks and engine immobilizers can help to reduce this risk.
Toolboxes can hold thousands of pounds worth of equipment in a small, easily transported package. All of the security precautions we’ve discussed therefore apply especially to these items. They should be fixed into position when not in use, using tamper-proof tethers. Locks should be recessed, and protected against sabotage. If a lock can be drilled through, then it won’t offer much protection.
The investment in rugged, tamper-proof tool storage will often pay for itself when the tools are stolen – as will keeping that toolbox somewhere where it can’t be easily seen or accessed.