Lighting, controlled access, and monitored cameras will create a safer, more secure site
Theft at construction sites is, unfortunately, nothing new. And it may be getting worse. No longer content to sneak off with valuable materials under cover of darkness, thieves are now marching onto sites in broad daylight and taking whatever they can grab. This can cause a ripple effect throughout the industry, including increased costs for security and replacement of stolen goods, and higher insurance premiums.
What options do firms have to prevent these incidents while also sticking to a budget or even cutting costs? The good news is that there’s plenty you can do to protect your team and materials. First, we’ll dive into the current state of construction site crime and then offer some solutions to prevent it.
Construction site crime is getting worse
Why is construction site crime on the rise? Materials are valuable and construction sites are vulnerable. An April Producer Price Index (PPI) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the cost of residential construction goods increased by a total of 8% in just the first three months of 2022. Year over year, building material prices have risen 20.4% and 33% since the pandemic hit.
With materials like lumber, metal, wiring, and tools still in high demand, it’s no surprise that thieves would target construction sites to find them. It’s also no surprise because construction sites are notoriously vulnerable to intruders. They are, by their very nature, temporary facilities that exist for a matter of weeks or months before disappearing. This can make security seem like an unnecessary waste of time and money. Savvy thieves know this and will take full advantage.
Here are some simple ways to protect your project.
1. Add more lights
Although most construction work takes place during the day, it would be a mistake to assume that your facilities will be safe and hidden at night. Nighttime security is necessary, starting with ample lighting. Criminals prefer to make off with valuable equipment and materials under cover of darkness. Take away their ability to hide and you vastly improve your site’s security.
Add lighting at each entrance and near valuable equipment and stockpiles of raw materials, such as lumber, copper, and cement. While there is no one-size-fits-all lighting plan, consider a mix of light towers, high mast lights, nite lights, balloon lights, and LEDs.
2. Lock it down
One of the simplest and most effective ways to secure your construction site is to physically lock down as much of it as possible when your crew is done for the day.
- Thread chains through smaller machinery and materials, then lock them up.
- Surround that smaller equipment with larger equipment and vehicles, making it more difficult for criminals to tow it away.
- Keep doors and windows locked and secure the keys to facilities and equipment, preferably off-site.
- Lock up any valuables that can’t be easily moved off-site. If your facility doesn’t have a standing building, think about bringing in shipping containers.
These suggestions may seem simplistic, but they will go a long way toward setting up a secure and safe site.
3. Fence it in
Stop vandals and thieves from getting to your site in the first place, and you’ve done your job. Here are a few tools to make that happen.
- Perimeter fencing, walls, tripwires, and motion detectors.
- Microwave and acoustic sensors on your fences and fiber optic cables that generate invisible barriers that trigger an alarm when breached.
- Integrated graphic maps, which can show intruders in real time on video surveillance.
- Monitored video surveillance takes that a step further by ensuring that real people will keep their eyes on your most valued assets at all times.
When you prevent criminals from reaching their targets, you are on your way to a safe construction site.
4. Contain access
Every construction site needs a system to keep unauthorized personnel out of work areas. Without such protocols in place, it’s impossible to keep track of who has access to different parts of the site. There are a number of options for controlling access – all with their own drawbacks. Keys can be lost or stolen, and access cards or fobs can be hacked or duplicated, allowing criminals unfettered access without anyone being the wiser.
Monitored security systems can go a long way toward controlling access and identifying when that control falters. Live agents can ask anyone entering the site for ID and cross check it with internal databases. They can also pass on potential red flags to local law enforcement for follow-up.
5. Store unneeded valuables
Construction projects involve large, heavy equipment that can’t easily be moved, but also many smaller items – concrete, lumber, hand tools, chemicals – that are easier to steal if not locked up. Removing these items from the site when not in use makes it a less tempting target for criminals. It can also lower your project budget, as it prevents unnecessary wear and tear from the elements.
Obviously, an accurate inventory is needed to help track equipment and materials on site. Make sure each piece of equipment has a serial number that’s stored in a central database. If something goes missing, this will make it much easier to track, providing local law enforcement the tools they need to help with recovery.
6. Make a plan
In order for any of the previously mentioned tactics to work, you’ll need a comprehensive plan that brings everyone in your organization on board.
- Articulate what you already do to prevent theft and vandalism and what needs improvement in the future.
- Map out the entire site and identify potentially sensitive areas.
- Set a clear policy of how tools and materials are used and stored.
- Make it clear that reporting potential threats and breaches is of the utmost importance and provide step-by-step instructions on how to do so.
Once your employees understand and buy into the security plan, your project will be that much safer for everyone.
7. Keep an eye on things
Although some criminals do attempt to steal from construction sites in the middle of the day, most stick to sneaking around at night. In order to keep tabs on these bad actors, a network of monitored security cameras is a necessary investment. The trained personnel who keep watch through these cameras are your best line of defense. They can warn intruders directly, trigger alarms, and contact local law enforcement immediately.
Mobile Video Guard is your go-to resource for monitored video surveillance. We help establish and maintain a secure environment that keeps criminals out of your construction site and ensures that employees understand and follow all safety protocols. Contact us today for a free quote!