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What are the Weak Access Points at a Construction Site?

What are the Weak Access Points at a Construction Site?
What are the Weak Access Points at a Construction Site?

Building Our Economy

It is often said that the state of the construction sector reflects the health of our economy as a whole. What’s more, it’s a pivotal force behind growth; lots of cranes looming over the urban landscape – and we’re doing well.

Not much construction going on? Things may not be quite as rosy.

This is an exceptionally dynamic sector where building projects can be switched on or off at short notice.

Right now, it’s on the up.

According to construction insights firm Glenigan, 2024 is likely to see the sector grow by 12%, with a further 3% on top of that in 2025. Yes, there are challenges – skills shortages, for example, but the building sector is still enormous and likely to remain so.

OK, so what’s the problem?

Nevertheless, with construction being the profitable industry that it is, there is a security issue at grassroots level: at the sites themselves. Building sites, characterised by their large and often open spaces, are wonderfully attractive to criminals and to thieves in particular.

Construction Site Theft stats

Steal Me

Not to put too fine a point on it, even when empty or unoccupied there may be valuable assets sored on-site with an attractive re-sale potential.

Equally, there’s little risk of intruders being caught or even monitored without adequate site security. The following items can disappear into thin air, as if by magic:

  • Vehicles (and fuel syphoning)
  • Lighting and electricals
  • Construction materials – metals or cabling
  • Machinery
  • Tools

At a remote building site and in the darker months of winter, these risks are greater.

As an aside, the UK’s move from red to white diesel (the latter produces fewer emissions), has created a whole new set of challenges. Why? Because white diesel can be used in “ordinary” vehicles, thus making it an attractive currency due to rising fuel prices.

The knock-on effects can be really damaging. And, recovery rates for all of the above are low.

Not only is it expensive to replace these items, but it’s also time-consuming, leading to project and deadline delays. All these costs add up. Clearly, it’s getting too expensive, so cutting back site security appears to be the best way forward. Or, is it?

Cutting Corners – Never a Good Idea

Like insurance, you may not think you need effective security at your unoccupied building site, but you won’t need it until you do. And then, you will really need it.

It would be fair to say that, as vacant commercial property security specialists, Clearway is hardly non-partisan here. Yet, consider these sobering statistics:

  • According to Allianz Cornhill, the construction sector loses £800m a year due to theft, with the same amount again lost to vandalism and fire; therefore, experience tells us that investing in strong security measures is essential.
  • Did you know that a survey undertaken by the Chartered Institute of Building has revealed that an eye-watering 92% of respondents are directly affected by petty crime? Astonishingly, 21% stated that their building sites are robbed weekly.

It’s an ongoing issue which needs to be tackled.

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What are the Weak Spots at a Construction Site?

Let’s examine where – or how – certain building site areas may be a little flimsy.

A variety of access points. Firstly, it stands to reason that the more access points there are, the more vulnerable site security can become. The sheer fact that there are comings and goings at different places, and that arrangements may regularly change as work progresses creates a degree of vulnerability. In addition, most thefts are opportunistic; inconsistent safeguarding standards are obvious to intruders, and they will find your “gaps”.

This leads us straight to:

The Front Gate

All too often, with high-vis jackets and hard hats, thieves really look the part without even trying too hard. You couldn’t tell the difference, and their brass neck is astounding.

They simply wander onto a construction site posing as workers, often unchallenged, to help themselves or check out the layout for a later spree. Inadequate, patchy access control gives them a free pass, which they willingly take.

Large Open Spaces

Typically, construction sites cover wide stretches of land, which raises challenges regarding observing various goings-on and securing each and every corner. You can’t be everywhere all at once, and intruders will know this.

Around the Perimeter

Although it may have a clearly defined perimeter, the outside edges of a site may be more vulnerable than you think. Think of it like this: imagine a target with concentric circles.

There is less space for unauthorised access in the middle of a construction site (a “bullseye”). Around the perimeter, there is much more square footage to break through and more opportunities to discover unlit or insecure areas. Its size puts it in an exposed position. A perimeter fence can be scaled all too easily, especially if someone is nimble or has access to a ladder. And, without sufficient CCTV, lighting or video verification wireless alarms, the site is more defenceless than it should be.

Dark Spots

To expand on the above point, trees may overshadow a site’s perimeter fence or specific areas that back onto a dark alleyway. These are black spots that conceal thieves. Criminals shy away from well-lit places yet gravitate to hidden settings that keep them out of view.


Bear in mind that not all construction sites focus on new development works.

The project may take place on an existing, unused commercial property with attached buildings. Thieves are canny and bold, and may be able to work their way in from a neighbouring premises, through a fire escape or an open window.


Scaffolding is a valuable commodity to thieves, but it can also provide a convenient entry point into an unsecured construction site, especially if helpfully placed ladders are nearby. Protection beams are an added expense, but they could help to stop opportunistic incomers.

A Solution to the Problem

The construction industry is a target because, in many cases, the problem is as clear as day:

Security at building sites is just not strong enough most of the time.

Padlocks and chains are not the answer.

Clearway has the experience and expertise to protect your site and critical assets. An initial security assessment will reveal your specific weak spots, with detailed recommendations to lock down, deter, detect and deny entry. Then, the following solutions – and we provide all of these – could offer you the transformation and peace of mind you deserve:

  • Access control solutions for a clear, defined view of who is coming in and going out. Technology here can be as sophisticated as facial recognition.
  • CCTV works 24/7 to monitor goings-on and report any suspicious activity to a manned service centre.
  • Consistently installed high-tech lighting to illuminate proceedings and deter intruders.

Your security strategy should be ongoing. Remember that due to the constantly changing nature of this type of working environment, the risks we identify during the first phase of your project may not be so as it progresses. For example, you may require different or additional lighting in the winter.

Take Aways from Clearway

In our view, two things are apparent:

  • A construction site is a high-crime area, and
  • A security strategy should never be based on price alone.

Reducing theft with an in-depth security risk assessment and implementing fit-for-purpose measures could quickly regain your investment. Likewise, you may see a reduction in your insurance claims, and you’ll be able to maintain your reputation as a legitimate operation that takes safeguarding and protection seriously.

Our advice:

Understand your site-specific challenges, put both physical and technical security in place and mitigate your security threats to create a safer environment for all involved. 

Contact Clearway for more information about how we can help.



Gideon Reichental

Vacant Property Security Consultant

Gideon is an experienced property specialist with a commitment to excellent customer service and support. With over eight years dedicated to the niche field of vacant property security and services, Gideon has been at the forefront of developing and implementing best practices and successful strategies for safeguarding vulnerable properties, demonstrating a profound understanding of the complexities involved. His hands-on experience includes managing portfolios of over 200 vacant properties directly, alongside senior management roles overseeing broader portfolios that encompass more than 2000 properties.

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