We recognise there is a fundamental need to secure your business critical assets, from vacant land, development sites and compounds, to plant, materials and fuel. As a leading provider of sustainable security, we are perfectly positioned to secure, monitor and protect your valuable assets.

Assets Link

Material Delays Increasing Demand for Security Measures

Material Delays Increasing Demand for Security Measures
Material Delays Increasing Demand for Security Measures

Vacant property security has always been crucial, with the risks of materials theft, illegal trespass, vandalism and squatters an ever-present threat to empty dwellings. However, extreme material shortages have put further pressure on property owners and commercial landlords and construction projects, resulting in huge price rises and a corresponding spike in thefts.

There is widespread supply chain disruption across many sectors, including construction. A combination of the global pandemic, border closures and Brexit-related administration have exacerbated the issues. Longer lead times for new stock, coupled with rising demand has resulted in a buoyant market for used construction machinery and equipment and criminals are taking advantage.

We’ve all seen and heard numerous reports of windows, doors and other materials not being delivered on-site on time, which is resulting in an increased need to protect buildings whilst properties wait to be made secure. So what is causing these delays? In this article we take a look at the current state of play.

Construction Site Theft stats

Here are just some of the latest stats:

  • Statistics from insurer Allianz Cornhill recently revealed that theft alone costs the industry £800M a year.
  • According to a study carried out by Herts Tools nearly £17.5m’ worth of tools were stolen in London 2020.
  • According to CESAR (the UK’s Official Construction Equipment Security and Registration Scheme), as little as 5% of unregistered plant is recovered.
  • A recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Building that revealed 92% of respondents were directly affected by petty crime, with 21% stating that their construction sites were robbed on a weekly basis.

Why Are Common Property Features in Such High Demand?

A range of factors have compounded supply chain issues and material scarcity, creating a perfect storm that has thrown up a considerable rise in security concerns:

  • Building materials such as roofing tiles, windows, doors, timber and bricks are in heavy demand, with haulage vacancies sitting at 60,000 even before the pandemic.
  • Backlogs for property developers, construction contractors and tradespeople are causing long delays in material deliveries.
  • Sector recovery as the industry looks to get back on track has meant that thousands of projects are resuming activity simultaneously. Core components, such as timber, have risen 23% in price within a single month.

The Wait for Wates

Early in June 2022, Construction news reported that supply issues have negatively impacted timings for the Wates sports centre development project, which was originally scheduled for completion in April 2021. Unfortunately, this situation isn’t a unique one – with many construction projects experiencing delays of over a year.

The centre is now due to open later this summer (2022), with material supply stated as the key reason for the delay. A spokesperson stated:

“The situation has been compounded by supply-chain problems that are being experienced across the construction sector at this time and this has slowed down the completion of some activities.”

Consultancy Accenture last month warned that supply-chain disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could cost the eurozone €920bn (£780bn) by the end of 2023.

The factors mentioned above are creating a high-risk environment for vacant properties, empty business units and construction projects. When we consider the added pressures of inflation, rising utility and fuel costs and borrowing charges related to interest rates, it’s clear that the demand for materials is not slowing down any time soon.

Even simple assets such as doors and window glazing are now in short supply, expanding the range of potentially valuable assets that have become targets for theft. So what can businesses or property owners do to protect unfinished or delayed projects?

How to Safeguard High-Value Property Assets

The first step to ensuring your site or vacant property is protected whilst you wait for delayed materials is to review the assets and fixtures you currently have in place and identify those most at risk.

Typical thefts include specific components that are currently hard to find:

  • Bricks and blocks
  • Glazing
  • Roofing tiles
  • Diesel
  • Timber

Although this isn’t an exhaustive list, and other materials (such as copper wiring) have always been a theft risk, it makes sense to prioritise your security measures to protect those items suffering from the greatest shortages.

Essential Vacant Building Security Measures

The right approach for your property security will depend on multiple variables, such as layout, location and access routes – and it’s vital not to forget access points such as car parks, since they represent an opportunity for material theft. Here are some of the most common areas that are at risk due to material delays and how you should look to protect these areas.

Vacant Building Access Points

Wireless intruder alarms are a relatively inexpensive and simple method of enhancing security for empty properties as there is no requirement for hard wiring, a mains electricity supply or disruptive installation processes.

The benefits include a remote facility to verify or dismiss alarms and anti-jamming technology. The alarm system operates continuously and will raise the alert if any movement is detected – whether breaking glass, illegal trespass or an attempt to force a door.

Vacant property intruder alarms are a cost-effective solution.

With routine maintenance and 24/7 alarm monitoring, they can reduce non-urgent call-outs while protecting your premises from criminal activity.

Securing Windows and Doors at an Empty Property

The majority of criminal intrusions occur by thieves forcing entry through windows and doors. Even locked windows create a critical vulnerability, particularly in vacant properties. A set of steel keyless entry doors or steel window screens is a robust and proven option to ensure that any prospective burglar cannot physically access an empty property whilst you’re waiting for windows and doors to be delivered.

They are also a practical security measure to avoid the theft or damage of windows, doors, locks and frames.

A keyless security door enables authorised tradespeople or visitors to access the building without any risk of intrusion or damage – professional fitting preserves the woodwork behind the screen while providing a barrier against attempted break-ins.

Perimeter Security

The logistics of illegally removing bulky or heavy materials such as roofing tiles, doors or timbers, means that most criminals use a vehicle.

Concrete barrier hire is an effective, low-cost way to restrict vehicular access whether you have an empty residential property or a vacant unit in an industrial park.

They can be a physical preventative so that any vehicles entering your land are forced to travel through a CCTV surveillance zone.

Many vacant properties border open land or have fencing to prevent accidental or intentional intrusions. Still, a determined criminal is unlikely to stop at a fence which they can pull down.

Blocks are advantageous because they are impossible to manoeuvre without professional equipment, can be hired for long or short-term periods, and restrict all types of vehicles while blocking small and large entrance points.

CCTV Surveillance and Monitoring

Unfortunately, the scope of the problem means that there isn’t one defined group of criminals who might attempt material theft, vandalism or squatting.

The outcome of a break-in is the same, whether ‘stolen to order’ or taken by an opportunist thief.

Commercial CCTV surveillance is a defensive measure and a proven criminal deterrent, but can also be deployed proactively to stop a crime in its tracks, report the security breach to the police, and record the identity and vehicle registration of the intruder.

Available features include:

  • Temporary CCTV towers – erected on telescopic, high mast mounts, a CCTV tower can be hired for any period and provides 24/7 always-on surveillance, with automatic motion sensors utilised during downtime.
  • Voice prompts – monitoring teams can issue live voice commands and alert an intruder that they are being recorded and that the police are en route.
  • Tamper-proof security – conventional CCTV is rarely appropriate for vacant properties due to the lack of mains power. Commercial-grade solar-powered batteries run a surveillance tower autonomously without any potential for wires to be vandalised.

You can access live feeds from any device, identify whether a detected movement is suspicious, and retain high-resolution videos to share with the authorities.

Other Steps to Enhance Vacant Property Security

We’d advise you to check that your insurance coverage is updated.

If your insurance is limited and you experience a non-recoverable theft, it may be impossible to submit a claim to the full value of the loss to replace stolen fixtures or roofing materials at your empty property.

Installing a fixed or temporary CCTV tower with around-the-clock remote monitoring may reduce your premiums since the risk of a loss is greatly reduced.

Finally, we recommend re-evaluating your security risk assessment outcomes since the level of crime linked to material shortages may have changed in the last few months.

Once you have a comprehensive overview of the biggest threats, available solutions, and a reassessed risk level, you will be able to revisit this as and when material shortages reduce, or prices return to previous averages.

Clearway has been trusted to protect, monitor and secure vacant properties, sites and their associated assets since 1992. As one of the UK’s leading vacant property security, environmental and property services company we have developed an extensive toolkit to ensure your critical assets are protected with minimal hassle.

We look after residential and commercial buildings, working directly with property managers, landlords, estate agents, local authorities, retail businesses and some of the largest hotel and leisure groups and housing associations in the UK.

Many of our industry accredited solutions work independently of mains supply or a telephone line, thereby reducing ongoing security-related utility costs. Most importantly, they give you peace of mind.

Contact one of our vacant property specialists today to discover why we are the trusted security partner of choice for countless businesses just like yours throughout the UK.

At Clearway we secure, monitor and protect.

Back to top

What are you looking for?