3 Reasons Construction Site Theft is Becoming More Common

Thieves target construction sites and yards because valuable materials and equipment are often left unsupervised

Key takeaways:

  • Construction site theft is becoming more common across the country.
  • Economic and social issues contribute to this rise in criminal activity, along with rising materials prices and the vulnerability of many sites.
  • These thefts bring significant losses for construction companies, but they can take specific steps to increase security, including adequate fencing, removing or locking down valuables, and implementing remote surveillance systems.

There have always been thefts at construction sites, but firms around the country believe the problem is getting worse. Thieves are becoming brazen when stealing items, even entering areas in broad daylight and attempting to leave with construction materials.

There are many reasons for this increase in theft, as current economic conditions are putting strain on some, and drug addiction spurs crime. Construction materials are also extremely valuable at the moment because there isn’t enough supply to meet demand, allowing criminals to sell anything they steal on the black market quickly. 

The good news is construction companies can take some steps to protect themselves by installing a monitored mobile surveillance system. Here is information on why construction site theft is so common and some construction site safety tips that firms of all sizes can follow.

1) Some criminals are desperate

When looking for reasons why people steal from construction sites, recent economic and social conditions are good starting points. 

As of 2020, 11.4% of the US population was living in poverty, meaning that 37.2 million people don’t make enough money to afford the necessities of life. Some areas experience higher poverty rates than others, and construction site theft is likely more common in those neighborhoods. 

In addition, 21 million Americans suffer from addiction. Only 11% of those individuals seek the medical help they need to treat it, and 20% have no idea where to seek assistance. 

While precise numbers are challenging to come by, the Office of National Drug Control Policy estimates that people under the influence of drugs commit between 5% and 30% of thefts. That number doesn’t include individuals who might be addicted to a substance but aren’t necessarily under the influence while committing the crime.

These numbers suggest that poverty and substance abuse may contribute to the increase in theft at construction sites and other locations, but they’re hardly the only factors.

2) Materials are valuable

Another reason criminals target construction sites is the rising value of the materials onsite. As of this writing, lumber is currently worth about $600 per thousand board feet, and it’s recently fluctuated as high as $1,000. Legitimate buyers of these materials have to pay a steep price.

But when thieves get ahold of large stacks of lumber, they can sell it to contractors and homeowners for far less, and this black market is thriving. Everyone in those transactions makes out on the exchange (except when they get caught!) — except the construction site owner, who is now dealing with lost lumber, the police, and their insurance company.

So, why are lumber and other supplies so expensive? Most of it relates to a housing supply shortage; there aren’t enough homes being built in the country to keep up with demand. In fact, the United States might be over 3.5 million homes short of need, so there’s significant work required in the coming years. 

One reason for the housing shortage is the shortage of building supplies. Manufacturers are struggling to get their supplies to builders because of labor shortages, both at their plants and in the logistics industry. Everything is slower than usual, causing problems in the supply chain. The result is fewer building materials available — at sky-high prices for the products construction companies can get their hands on.

These high prices make construction materials very valuable for thieves, creating a situation where more sophisticated criminal groups are starting to organize thefts and sell these goods on the black market.

3) Construction sites are vulnerable

Finally, thieves are likely targeting construction sites because these locations have a reputation for being vulnerable. Generally, sites are temporary facilities where the company will work for a few weeks or months before moving on. Therefore, many construction companies don’t bother with the hassle of setting up a security system because they’ll just have to take it down again before moving on to the next job. 

Unfortunately, thieves know many firms leave these sites unsecured and that removing or consistently securing valuable tools and materials every night is a massive undertaking. 

There are some powerful things construction companies can do to reduce theft at their temporary sites, however.

How to prevent construction site theft

Preventing construction site theft comes down to adding as many barriers as possible for potential thieves. These criminals are looking for the easiest score with the least amount of effort, so deterrents reduce instances of theft at your sites.

First, you should invest in some fencing. These fences don’t have to be fancy, as their primary role is to deter criminals from entering the property. If thieves decide to enter despite the barriers, they’ll have to work harder to get there. 

Next, you’ll want to secure your tools, equipment, and materials as much as practicable. While storing everything indoors is next to impossible, removing the most valuable items from the site can help limit your losses. You can also secure materials in onsite sheds or other structures, making it far more challenging to get away with them.

Investing in a mobile security solution is also essential because it allows you to keep constant eyes on the site through an off-site security team. This technology is quick and easy to install, and you can move it to your next project after completion. The result is a far more secure construction site that limits or stops losses. 

Installing a mobile video surveillance system

Perhaps the best thing about a mobile surveillance system is that a trained security guard monitors the feed and alerts the police if something breaks into your site. They can also directly warn off intruders through loudspeakers and onsite alarms. 

Mobile Video Guard provides monitored mobile video surveillance for construction sites and other temporary locations. The result is less theft and an altogether safer place of business. Contact us to get a quote!

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