Preventing Theft

Ways That Contractors Can Improve Construction Site Security

by ABC Supply Pro Council


(Editor’s Note: The ABC® Supply Pro Council consists of experienced associates from across the United States. Its aim is to provide contractors nationwide with industry advice and insights to help them seize opportunities and overcome challenges they face as they manage successful businesses. Contractors can visit ABC Supply’s blog for additional tips and resources from the Pro Council.)


Theft on the construction site is a growing problem for many contractors. It’s estimated that stolen construction equipment and materials account for up to $1 billion a year in losses. Theft often occurs because construction tools and machinery are left in plain sight and are more easily accessible to would-be criminals. Plus, there isn’t a national registration database, like the DMV, that automatically registers construction equipment. This means when law enforcement tries to recover any stolen equipment, they can’t identify who it belongs to. While these factors make theft a real threat to contractors, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent it on your jobsite.


Keep It Well Lit

Having a well-lit construction site is one of the most important, and easiest, actions you can take. Thieves want to remain unseen. Also, most jobsite thefts are committed by employees or other people who know their way around the site in the dark. By illuminating your jobsite, most thieves will seek an easier, less visible target.


Have a Surveillance System in Place

Make it known that your construction site is being monitored by placing security cameras or motion sensors at the jobsite. Many cameras run on batteries or solar power, making them a good fit for construction sites with limited access to electricity. This also gives you the freedom to place the camera where you want without having to worry about a power source. Some security cameras come equipped with Wi-Fi and text alerts, allowing you to see the activity on the jobsite in real time. Text alerts are sent when the camera detects movement, which gives you the opportunity to alert the authorities right away.

For a lower-cost option, motion sensors will use less energy than cameras and are more sensitive to movement. When the sensors detect movement in the area, the lights will turn on to draw more attention to the jobsite, which could indicate a theft in progress. Whether using security cameras or motion sensors, consider placing them along the perimeter of the jobsite or near the work trailer.


Install Fencing & Post Signage

If your job permits it, consider adding a temporary fence around the construction area and locking the gate at the end of the night. A height of at least 8’ makes it difficult for thieves to climb. Be sure to have only one entry into the construction site to make it easier to monitor who goes in and out of the area. While this is an old-school solution, also posting a no trespassing sign remains one of the most effective ways to prevent theft. Consider placing the signage on the fence to make it clear that only certain people are permitted in the area. Also consider adding an emergency number, like 9-1-1, that people can use should they see any suspicious activity.


Maintain a Clean & Organized Jobsite

The less building material you have lying around, the harder it is for someone to steal from you. Try to schedule your deliveries so that the materials arrive as you need them. Make sure all building materials and equipment are organized and secured at the end of each workday. If you can’t lock up your tools, consider taking them with you at night. For larger pieces of equipment, consider anchoring them in place with chains or cables and make sure any keys are removed. If possible, remove or disable hitches so that others can’t pull trailers away from the jobsite. Not only will organizing your jobsite prevent the chance that someone can steal from it, but it will also be a good way for you to manage inventory.


Use GPS Technology

Take your construction site security precautions to the next level using GPS tracking and geofencing technologies. Some types of equipment have GPS systems installed, so you can use that to monitor and track locations, performance, fuel consumption, and engine temperature. This information can be sent directly to your phone, so you can easily see if the construction equipment is being used when it shouldn’t be. Geofencing technology creates a digital perimeter around the jobsite and can shut down your equipment if it’s operating outside the specified area. After work hours, it notifies you through text if there is any unauthorized movement.


Keep Records of Inventory & Equipment

Make sure that you document all your materials and equipment and keep a log of who has it, and when. Take photos and record tool serial numbers, so that you have identifying details in the event that something is taken or lost. If construction equipment is stolen, contractors can improve their chances of getting it back by manually registering their equipment through the National Equipment Register (NER). This acts as a database to keep track of equipment and its owners. In case of theft, notify both the police and the NER to help recover your stolen equipment.


With theft on the jobsite continuing to rise, use these tips to make sure your equipment is safe and secure.