Updated: Dec 9, 2019
At any given year, theft is experienced on all construction sites. In fact, In Victoria alone, job site theft has jumped a staggering 20% in 2017. Across the country, the building and construction industry has been growing at a rapid rate. In fact, it’s one of the industries that were expected to boom in 2019 and most certainly did. With industry highs and weak sentencing for thieves, this makes construction theft a growing business for criminals.
So far in the past couple of years, approximately 70% of my construction sites have been either broken into or has some sort of malicious damage from the attempting of. I had an experience of catching a mid-aged man stealing underground cables from my site. The scrap for the copper would have netted the criminal $50 at best, though the damages he caused would run well over $10,000. Sure, Insurance will cover for the damages but they do not cover for time delays, re-scheduling trades, and admin costs. Not to mention the increase in insurance premiums. I might as well pin a $100 note on the site toilet addressed to the criminal in order to save the headaches.
Moving on, here are 5 ways you can prevent theft on your construction sites.
Probably the best deterrent is installing site cameras. There are numerous companies out there such as iDetect & Site View whom supply and install site cameras. The cameras are installed with Internet connection which streams live footage to a control centre. The highlight with this service is that it can be viewed live on any smartphone app, and also be doubled up to check if trades are on site or deliveries have been made. But buyer beware – This service is not cheap and will set you back around $3000 - $4000 Dollars per camera, per job cycle (8months). So make sure its accounted for in job pricing.
Noise is a great way to distract thieves from breaking and entering. Of course, power would need to be on and a decent system will cost around $1200 to get installed. In some cases, The security cameras as mentioned above will also have a motion detector attached to its pole with an alarm system. I have also seen some alarm systems on the market that are powered by solar panels.
Most thefts on sites occur once the site is locked up and fit off is completed. Reason being is that taps, door handles, sinks, basins, and appliances have a greater demand on the black market. To avoid sticky beaks and potential thieves scouting your project - a good idea is to install blinds. Not only do the blinds block out external view but it also makes it look like the residence is habitable and occupied.
A nicely lit up site will deter thieves as they prefer to move in the shadows. An external flood light can be temporarily installed in key locations. Not only will it deter criminal but it also highlights and markets your construction site. Another idea is to turn on your lights on inside your home by alternative different rooms and leaving them on overnight. I have also heard of some people installing an old radio in the dwelling so that it sounds the house is in use.
Even though most neighbors are annoyed from the inconvenience from a construction site is next door, it is in your best interest to work with them. In the past I have asked neighbours to keep a close look out for any suspicious individuals entering the site at odd times.
In the past I have asked neighbours to even park their cars in the driveway over night to make the house look like habitants are inside. Most neighbours will comply with assisting you. After all, if criminals are circling your site, what is stopping them from targeting your neighbours house next?! It may cost you a bottle of wine or two but that’s cheap compared to the thousands of dollars you will spend in damages.
It sucks having to dedicate time and energy in to something that will not benefit neither you nor your clients. However, crime rates are still rising so, unless policies change and stricter penalties are implements to criminals, we will have to get used to it.
I hope these tips help!