In October 2018 the Federation of Master Builders reported that tool theft was at an all-time high and FMB CEO, Brian Berry, said: “More than half of builders in the UK have fallen foul of tool theft with concerns growing over a crime wave wreaking havoc across the construction industry. Tools are being stolen from vans and direct from construction sites, with some builders even being assaulted by would-be thieves…”
The FMB survey appears to show no improvement from when the Chartered Institute of Building last reported on crime in the construction industry which revealed 1 in 5 experienced theft and vandalism on a weekly basis. At the time, the CIOB said a lot of crimes never even got reported so the figures were undoubtedly conservative.
It paints an extremely concerning picture, especially as major insurers, Allianz Cornhill, reckon that theft alone is estimated to cost the UK construction industry more than a staggering £800m annually.
Sussex Police Inspector, Peter Dommett, who leads a crime prevention team in the region agrees. “These crimes are on the increase” he says “with expensive tools and plant being stolen. We get at least one report a day in Mid-Sussex alone, often with shipping or site containers being broken into. We’ve even seen ‘walk-on’ thefts where people dress as workers and simply walk about taking items in broad daylight“.
Leigh Hooper of site security experts, Clearway, says “Thieves think construction sites are easy targets and a lot of the time they’re right as many lack proper security procedures. In our experience the main causes of theft are:
- Open cabs, sheds, or containers providing easy access to thieves
- Multiple pieces of equipment sharing the same keys or keys kept in obvious locations
- Unsecured jobsites, particularly at night and over weekends or holiday shutdowns”
“If you’re a tradesmen with a commercial van try the following advice:
- Park as near your home as possible and if you park on your own drive and the vehicle is visible, install security lighting to keep it illuminated and a CCTV camera as well. If you can have locked secure gates across the drive so much the better. You need as many deterrents as possible!
- Park the vehicle up against a wall or garage door to make access difficult.
- Make sure the vehicle is alarmed and install extra security locks.
- Keep as many of your tools and equipment indoors if at all possible.
- Display a notice on the vehicle telling would-be thieves all tools and equipment are removed from the van at night.”
“If you manage a construction site:
- Good Lighting
Keep your site illuminated even when it’s closed. Thieves count on being able to remain inconspicuous so don’t make life easy for them
- Plan ahead
Don’t keep an excess of materials. If you can, purchase or delay delivery of what you need for when you need it so it isn’t sitting there waiting to be stolen. This obviously requires good planning and communication between you and your suppliers but why leave temptation lying around if you can help it?
- Have a fortress mentality
Ensure your perimeter fencing and access gates are as strong and as secure as possible and carry prominent warning signs that CCTV and temporary alarms are in operation. The fewer site access points, the better.
- Remove temptation
Lock all tools and small or valuable equipment or materials away securely, or remove from the site to safe storage if possible, especially over a longer shutdown period. If this isn’t feasible, securely label all plant, tools and equipment with an indelible i.d. mark and ensure they are listed on a police-approved national tool register so if they’re lost or stolen this could help their recovery.
- Keep out!
Consider temporary concrete barriers to block entry to the site. This will prevent ingress of vehicles and make it more difficult to load any heavy or bulky materials. They can be easily and quickly positioned and removed and are such a simple solution for a closure of a couple of weeks or so.
- We’re watching you!
Install a temporary CCTV camera tower along with good site lighting. Why would thieves target a difficult to access site that’s well lit, with remote cameras and movement sensors surveying everything, when they can find a dark, unsecured alternative?
For construction sites, solar powered mobile camera towers are an ideal security solution. Running off mains or solar power and communicating via the mobile network, Clearway’s mobile CCTV towers can be your eyes with virtually 360˚ coverage. They survey all the site with their swivelling, high-definition movement-activated cameras and when triggered, they can issue voiced warnings to trespassers so they know they’ve been spotted.
The activation and live video are instantly beamed back to Clearway’s state-of-the-art NSI Gold Alarm Receiving Centre who, in turn, will raise an alarm, send out a security guard patrol and/or contact the police to apprehend the intruders.