There is plenty to worry about when you run a construction site. There is, even more, to worry about when you have multiple sites that you have to manage. You need to think about getting the work done on time, doing it on or under budget, and, of course, the safety of your workers and the general public. And, those are just the high-level things. On any given day, there are so many things that pop up and fires to put out. With all this going on, the last thing you want to deal with is theft at your construction site. Unfortunately, construction site theft is a real problem. The good news is, with a few steps and the right type of theft-deterring technology, it is something you can minimize and safeguard yourself from so you can get back to managing the most critical parts of your projects. Here are some useful tips to help prevent theft and keep your construction sit secure.  

The Cost of Stolen Items

There are lots of costs, both upfront and hidden, involved in running a construction site. In addition to these unavoidable costs, if theft occurs on your site, the cost could potentially skyrocket, and the problem is, theft at construction sites is a VERY common problem across the country.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the average value of a piece of construction equipment that is stolen from a site is a whopping $46,273. When you add up all the theft that goes on at construction sites every day, estimates say that the total value of lost equipment at anywhere from $300 million to $1 billion with the majority of experts placing the number between $400 and $500 million.

What makes these numbers even worse is that they represent just the value of the stolen item. The additional costs of buying or renting a piece of replacement equipment, downtime, project-delay penalties, and both management and workers having their time wasted by dealing with these issues make the theft even more expensive.

The Benefits of Video Surveillance 

The simplest and most cost-effective way to secure your construction site is to install video surveillance. Cameras can be quickly and easily deployed around construction sites and, cameras with human detection offer you the opportunity to make sure any time something goes on at your site you know about it.

They say that the most effective home security is actually just a security system sign on your window or door. The same is true, with highly visible security cameras. Just having cameras that can be seen by potential thieves will cut down on theft dramatically.

Security cameras today are high-tech, easy to install, use, and maintain, and are cheaper than ever. For a reasonable price, you can get solar-powered cameras, so you don’t have to worry about electricity and connected to Wi-Fi or cellular networks so you can monitor them right from your computer, tablet, or phone. You can get ones that recorded continuously or take time-lapse photos of your site. Also, even if the cameras’ do not stop a thief from trying to rip you off, you will have the ability to find out what happened, who did it and increase your chances of getting your equipment back.

The added bonus to installing these cameras is that, not only will they act as a deterrent and help prevent or remedy theft, but they are also a great way to keep an overall eye on your project as it grows and track your progress. This is especially helpful if you have multiple sites to monitor or are doing so remotely.

Steps to Prevent Construction Site Theft 

In addition to the “must-have” step of installing video cameras at your sites, there are plenty of other steps you can take to help ensure the security of your construction site.

·        Secure your perimeter. One of the first steps you need to take to secure your construction site is to make it hard to get into, especially when people are not there. To do this, there are a few things you want to do. Fencing around the outside of the site is a good start. Adding barbed wire to the top makes that fencing even more effective. The fence will also allow you to create a single access point so that there is only one way in and one way out. That will make it easier to monitor. Lighting the perimeter at night is also a helpful deterrent to criminals. Thief’s like the cover of darkness so a well-lit area will make your site less of a target.

·        Human Security. In addition to video monitoring your site, having a human element to your security is helpful too. During the day, your security guards can monitor the access point to make sure that the only things that are supposed to go out leave the site. At night and during downtimes like weekends, having a person on site at all times will discourage criminal activity and allow the authorities to be alerted quickly if something happens. If you cannot or do not want to hire a security guard, even the occasional in-person pop-in during the night or on weekends will help make your site more secure.

·        Lock it up. Another simple and cost-effective security tool for your construction site is to lock things up when you can or use manual vehicle theft prevention systems like The Club. Sure, these measures are not 100% secure and a determined thief can certainly get around most simple locks by cutting or breaking them with some effort or the right tools but just having them visible, like with video cameras, will make thieves think twice about the time and effort it will take to steal something and hopefully make them take a pass on your site. For the few extra bucks that these types of locks cost, it is definitely worth it.

·        Use more tech. Video cameras are the cheapest and easiest tech to use to increase the security of your construction site but there are other measures you can implement as well. The investment in this tech may make sense for your more expensive equipment especially. Technology such as geo-fencing, GPS or RFID tracking, transponder chips, or even drone surveillance can be a little bit more expensive but again, when you have multi-million dollar machinery and equipment on your site, the value these types of technology can add are tremendous. 

·        Register your equipment. Even with an enormous amount of security measures in place, theft may still happen. In this case, you want to increase the odds of being able to recover your stolen equipment. To this end, registering your equipment can be very important. Things like the National Equipment Register (NER) will help you do this. The NER was to create and manage a database of registered and stolen equipment. Since its inception, the NER has recorded around 12 million ownership records and created a list of over 70,000 reports of stolen equipment. The NER can now cross-reference these lists in order to identify, find, and recover stolen equipment. 

·        Know what gets stolen. Securing every nail and screw on your construction site does not make financial or logistical sense in most cases. By knowing what types of supplies and equipment are most likely to get stolen, you will be better able to allocate your security resources to the places they are most needed. The four most common stolen types of items are: 

  1. Tools and Small Supplies – Valuable and easy to conceal and remove from sites, these are the most stolen items. 


Appliances – Once these bigger ticket items are inside of a project they are difficult to secure, making them easy and valuable targets.  

  1. Heavy Machinery – While it is harder to get these off of sites, they are by far worth the most money which means they are a huge target for theft. 


  1. Metal and Lumber – These building materials are valuable, generally on the smaller side and hard to identify once stolen. They are easy picking for thieves if it is easy to get off the site with them. 

·        1 strike and you’re out. Many times, the people who steal from your site actually come from the inside. Of course, we would all love to be able to trust all of our employees, but, unfortunately, that is just not always the case. Statistics say about 30% of employees steal. If you catch one of your employees doing so are trying to do so, you need to nip it in the bud and make an example out of them. Even small stealing can lead to bigger theft so you want to make sure anyone who does, is no longer welcome on the job site. 


Theft costs the construction industry 100’s of millions of dollars each year. Don’t add to that number. By implementing easy to use and cost-effective video cameras along with taking a few other simple steps, you can be on your way to a goal of losing $0 to theft in 2020. This will make a huge difference in your bottom line.

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