Construction site theft adds up to well over $1 billion in lost equipment, supplies, materials, and hand tools in the United States alone. It’s easy for a company to think “it won’t happen to us”, to believe the GPS on heavy machinery is a guarantee that it will be quickly found and returned by police if stolen, and that even if the items cannot be tracked by GPS, inurance will just cover the value anyway, so no big deal. In fact, these are some of the most common misconceptions we hear from organizations that reach out to us for our free threat assessment offer.
The security solutions we offer for your construction site or properties:
For our article about construction site theft, details on our RoboguardTM and Guardian3TM, and feedback from one of our current clients in the construction industry, check out this previous issue of our newsletter.
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Global Director of Security
Pricey items can be found in every corner of a construction site, and that means there’s a good chance thieves have ‘eyes-on’, looking for the right opportunity to steal and sell some of the most popular things they can get top-dollar for off improperly protected properties. The most stolen objects from construction sites are listed below.
Power / Hand / Manual Tools are #1
These are relatively small and easy to be carried out of a job site, have a high value, and can be sold quickly through hightraffic, no-questions-asked sites like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, LetGo, Craigslist, and many more. Organized crime has a hold on this market, as well as many of the others below. The five finger discount shopping is not only on construction sites – for example, the criminal masterminds send ‘boosters’ to brazenly walk out of home improvement stores with desired power tools, which are then sold to ‘fences’ who put online ads up offering huge savings over actual store prices. The presence of store security cameras doesn’t frighten these thieves into another line of work, but you better believe that the voice of one of our highly-trained monitors booming over security speakers definitely would have… and does.
Watch this video of an intruder , who abruptly ended his unauthorized visit to the construction site within 15 seconds (most of which was spent trying to figure out how to get out as fast as possible).
Vacuums, chainsaws, and sanders are among the easiest to not only thieve, but to move uber-fast for a nice profit, as well. Many criminals (and criminal syndicates) believe that these smaller items aren’t worth the authorities’ time and effort to chase, so they feel the risk of stealing and selling is definitely worth any low-level risk they may have to face later on. They aren’t equipped with GPS or a LoJack-for-tools either, so once they’re gone, they are literally… GONE.
Copper and Other Building Materials
Copper is KING, but metal roofing, lumber, and other raw materials are not far behind in popularity. Speaking of copper, over $1 billion is stolen each and every year at construction sites, partially because criminals know it is plentiful, easy to walk off with, worth a lot, and pretty much impossible to track down. Basically, Department of Energy statistics reveal that stolen copper accounts for over $1 billion per year and is sold for a very good price on various websites and online marketplaces. Other than this fact, the theft of copper, lumber, roofing, bags of cement, and other materials can set back progress days or weeks, depending on the project in question and its requirements.
Many supplies needed for building are not inventoried and just left out in an unsecured area at the end of a day’s shift. Lumber, especially now, is in very high demand, due to COVID-19 shortages, and the resulting price increases of up to almost 200%. Recently in Texas, thieves made off with $10,000 in lumber in less than 20 minutes.
Heavy Equipment and Towables
While the risks involved with stealing big machines is much higher, so are the rewards. Loaders, tractors, and excavators are the top 3 targets for criminals bold enough to enter the construction heavy equipment theft game. The most popular – loaders – are estimated to account for 18-30% of this category, tractors between 10-20%, and excavators about 5%. Imagine showing up to your job site, and a $100,000+ earth mover has vanished into thin air – that’s a situation you never want to be in.
Towable items like welders, power generators, chippers, air compressors, lighting, and similar items – when considering all construction equipment – are actually the second most nicked from properties where building is being done. Agencies, like the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), working with the National Equipment Register (NER), believe towables make up about 20% of stolen machinery.
You can’t not have these bandit-desired tools, materials, and pieces of equipment on your site because your workers need them to do their jobs. So how do you protect all of it? A security system acts as a deterrent for those with bad intentions, but if the thieves or trespassers persist, you need a solution like ours that can deliver a loud warning over the on-site speakers and simultaneously send police and physical guards.
Michigan Central Station in Detroit was used from 1914 until 1988, when it was abandoned. In 2018, Ford purchased the property, and since then has been renovating it into a large, multi-use campus. Already, the automaker’s autonomous vehicle unit has an office in the facility, and the plan is for 5,000 more employees to work there too.
As Michigan Central Station is an historic landmark, having served as a vital railroad station for passenger trains, renovation and construction workers have been asked to carefully handle and safeguard any relics or potential artifacts found. So far, over 200 items have been unearthed at the construction and makeover project, but one in particular has captured a lot of interest when it was found last month – a bottle with a message in it. The Stroh’s Beer bottle is stamped with the date (7-19-13) and contained a rolled-up, clearly aged note that has been deciphered to say “Dan Hogan and Leo Smith stuck this greeting of Chicago July 1913”. We think the word “ceiling” is in there, but who’s to say for sure. The date on the 108-year-old bottle corresponds with construction of the old railroad depot. It’ll be interesting to see what other treasures they might find!
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