Few things can eat into your profits for a job faster than theft from your construction site. All sorts of items are commonly targeted, including hand-held tools, safety gear, building materials, and even large machinery and its accessories. Whether you lose property via a slow trickle, or a well-organized single strike, everything that gets taken has to be replaced, and it’s costly.
No organization tracks construction site theft or issues official numbers. However, it’s widely cited by industry experts that the cost of equipment theft is estimated at about $1 billion dollars annually.
Here are some key tips to help prevent your construction company from being one of the victims with losses contributing to this staggering figure.
How to Prevent Job Site Theft
- Instate and enforce a zero-tolerance policy for employees taking tools, scrap, etc. While straightforward employee theft is sometimes a problem, many construction companies also steadily shed property when workers or subcontractors borrow items for side jobs and lose them, forget to return them, or inadvertently mix them into their own supplies.
- Make it clear that supervisors are present and paying attention. Employees and subcontractors aren’t generally willing to risk their jobs over workplace theft. Those who engage in this practice take advantage of opportunity. Managers and supervisors should always be on site, making rounds, and interacting with workers.
- Secure your job site with fencing, after-hours lighting, and “No trespassing” signs. Sites that are easy to access and sneak around are far more likely to be targeted than well-secured, well-lit ones. Consider installing strategically placed security cameras that can monitor workers and people who access the site during off hours. Some construction companies choose to hire a private security guard for off hours, too.
- Secure all your equipment, materials, and machinery. Tools, safety gear, accessories, materials, and other items should be locked away in large storage boxes, trailers, or other places. Secure these locations and larger items with heavy chains, tamper-proof locks, or other industrial-strength security measures. Machines can be secured various ways, like removing the battery or a wheel, booting wheels, using control locks, lowering buckets and blades, placing heavy barriers around machines to prevent easy hitching and towing, and so on.
- Track your inventory daily. Maintain a master list of all the tools, machinery, accessories, materials, and other equipment on site. Items should be checked off as they’re secured at the end of shifts or the day. This is important for quickly becoming aware of problems originating with crew members or subcontractors. Also, use your inventory to order new supplies on an as-needed basis, rather than keeping extra items laying around for extended periods.
- Mark heavy equipment with its product identification number (PIN). All machinery made since the year 2000 has a standard 17-digit PIN. Engrave each machine’s PIN on it in two places—one visible and one well hidden. This makes identification of recovered stolen machines simple and straightforward. The reason for the two engravings is that thieves will probably destroy the PIN marking they see, but aren’t likely to search for another.
- Buy and rent machinery equipped with a wireless monitoring system. For example, check out the remote monitoring features that come with all heavy equipment acquired from Trekker Group. Trekker machinery includes a telematics system with GPS tracking and monitoring for unauthorized use, in addition to numerous other highly useful features.
- Talk to local law enforcement. If you let them know the hours when nobody should be on your job site, patrolling police officers are often happy to make occasional passes. This is an added layer of security and helps make your site a less appealing target, especially at night and on weekends.