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Equipment theft costs the construction industry between $300 million and $1 billion every year. That amount doesn’t even include the cost of tool or material theft and any damages the thieves caused. Meanwhile, contractors and site managers only ever recover about 20% of stolen property. Fortunately, there are a number of relatively simple ways to improve security for construction sites.
1. Light It Up
One of the easiest and most affordable ways to protect your site is to place light fixtures in and around the area. Thieves like to work under the cover of darkness, so installing floodlights will discourage them from casing your site. Place motion-sensor lights where you store more expensive materials and equipment to scare off anyone with the guts to get close.
2. Install Fencing
Another relatively simple way to improve security and deter thieves is to install fencing. Establish a perimeter around your site with a metal fence. If crime rates are high in the area, consider adding barbed wire on top. Make sure the fence is see-through so passerby can see into the site and post no trespassing signs. Thieves will most likely avoid targeting areas where they think people can see them.
3. Limit Vehicle Access
Of course, you’d like to think your employees are reliable, but you can never know for sure. If they were to steal tools or smaller machines, they could easily hide the equipment in their car and drive off with it at the end of the workday. Therefore, it may be smart to limit vehicle access and create off-site parking for employees. Establish a security checkpoint for all other necessary vehicles to ensure no one takes something they shouldn’t.
4. Use Video Surveillance
You might also employ a video surveillance system to monitor goings-on both in and around your site. This step is especially important if the jobsite is in a rural area with little to no traffic as remote sites make easy targets. If the site is off-grid, use solar or battery-powered cameras for 24/7 surveillance. Some even come with text alerts and mobile video so you can peek in on the site regardless of your physical location.
5. Call the Cops
Another way to deter thieves is to ask a policeman to drive by your site as they make their nightly rounds. Cops will likely be more willing to accommodate you if the site has a history of criminal activity or if it lies in a metropolitan area. Moreover, if they do spot someone trying to break into the construction zone, a policeman will be able to arrest them then and there. Alternatively, if you notice someone breaking and entering over surveillance, the police may not arrive in time to catch the perpetrator.
6. Store and Secure Equipment
At the end of a long workday, everyone is usually in a rush to get home. In their eagerness to leave, some workers may neglect to put away tools and lock up materials and equipment. Of course, this only invites thieves to come in and take things. Therefore, it’s absolutely essential that employees take time to put everything away properly. Creating an end-of-day checklist may help workers remember this important responsibility.
7. Track Your Assets
In regards to your equipment, it’s crucial you know exactly where everything is at all times — both to boost productivity and prevent theft. Many newer models of machinery already have GPS tracking features so you can pinpoint their location. However, you can also use GPS to track smaller tools that tend to go missing more often. Establish boundaries for different tools and materials so you receive alerts when an item moves or is in use when it shouldn’t be.
8. Take Inventory
Additionally, it’s wise to take inventory periodically and keep a record of how many items your operation uses and where they may be at any given time. Count materials and tools on a fairly regular basis to ensure nothing goes missing. If something does disappear, it will also be helpful to have registered the equipment through the National Equipment Registry. This organization can help recover heavy machinery and other equipment.
Encouraging Better Security for Construction Sites
When it comes to improving security for construction sites and protecting your equipment, your team is your first line of defense. To prevent theft and ensure the site is safe, you must encourage security awareness among your employees. Train and retrain workers and teach them how to store equipment, how to notice suspicious behavior and what to do if something were to go missing.
Preparing them in such a way will improve security and demonstrate to team members that you’re serious about stealing and the consequences that go along with it.