How to Recognize and Reduce Job Site Theft

Posted on September 15, 2015 by Leave your thoughts

When Thieves Strike!!

Theft of construction equipment is a national epidemic. At first you may not notice the disappearance of small items from the job site. However, once the thieves deduce that they’ve gotten away with it, larger things may start to go missing. Unfortunately, in many cases, such thieves happen to be on the company’s payroll.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, over a billion dollars worth of construction tools and equipment are stolen nationwide each year and 90% of the stolen items are taken directly from work sites. Many items most commonly stolen from job sites are generally either mobile or high valued equipment.Chart of Stolen Construction Equipment

Numbers like that can especially affect small or medium-sized construction companies that don’t have much financial wiggle-room. You also have to consider other ways that losing equipment can negatively affect your business. For instance, you may have to significantly shift schedules depending on whether or not the required equipment is available. Also, if the theft is coming from the inside, this revelation could be demoralizing for company employees and/or result in a bad reputation for the company. Therefore, implementing some security measures to decrease job site theft might just save your business.


So let’s talk about what you can do to help eliminate job site theft from your list of daily worries as a contractor, starting with weaknesses. Here are some job sites that would be considered low-hanging fruit for potential thieves.

  • Tools and equipment that are not locked up at night
  • Poorly illuminated job sites
  • Universal keys
  • Job sites where little to no security exists on the weekend
  • Job sites that are somewhat isolated
  • ID numbers and records that are loosely maintained or non existent

So what are some ways that you can plan to manage theft prevention? While it may be impossible to stop all thefts in their track, you can make it more difficult for people to take things from the job site. Research has proven that most thieves will not attempt to rob a worksite if they can’t enter the site, load the equipment, and make their escape in less than 10 minutes.

Improve Area Lighting

If you are working at a jobsite where the lighting is either inadequate or non existent during night hours, you should attempt to make Lighting improvements as soon as possible. Think about installing light fixtures that use Photocells to operate. That way they won’t illuminate until the sun goes down. Also consider buying motion-sensing lights. A thief may become like a deer caught in headlights if a light pops directly on them.

Establish an Inventory Security Protocol

Implementing an inventory control system will help make you aware earlier if anything is missing.  It can also inform you exactly where it was before it went MIA. You can also implement a documented check-in and check-out system to see a detailed chain of transference. You may also consider doing a mandatory inspection for the “end of shift”.

Hire Security

Although hiring extra security may only be possible for large jobs where the value of the equipment is great enough to warrant paying for security, it may play an integral role in keeping your high-value equipment safe. You might also consider investing in a security company that installs security cameras, or you could setup and install your own cameras. You could also schedule company employees to take turns driving by the jobsite after hours for some extra pay.

Jobsite Layout

Fences are a good idea for a job site, as well as maintaining limited entrances and exits. The harder a site is to access, the less likely that thieves will take the risk of not being able to get out quickly. If your site is located in a populated area, make sure you get to know your neighbors. If you’re working in a neighborhood, consider talking to the neighborhood watch and get them on board with keeping an eye on your job site after hours.  

Lock Everything Up

At the end of the day, consider locking everything up for the night. You might want to invest in heavy duty sheds or storage lockers that can be secured after hours with a high quality lock. The harder it is for someone to get in and the longer it takes, the less likely your goods will go missing.  

Don’t Allow Materials to Sit Around Too Long

Schedule to have materials for the job delivered as close to the time they are going to be installed. That way they aren’t sitting around at job site tempting thieves with their availability.

Do you have any tips, suggestions, or stories about your battle against job-site thieves? Join in the conversation and leave a comment below!

-Written By Dane Gustafson

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