An empty building with no windows, doors or roof yet with valuable materials and tools around… it’s easy to see why theft from construction sites is costing businesses and individuals across the UK over £800 million per year. But if you’re the site owner, not the project manager or site boss, what can you do to ensure that thefts don’t cause damage, delays and increasing costs on your site? As experienced industry professionals, the Pure Construction team have seen it all and can offer a few tips that can dramatically improve the security and integrity of your build.
1. Get your own insurance
Yes, your contractor should be insured. Yes, any freelancers should have insurance. Yes, you probably already have building and contents insurance. Despite this, when your having significant work done, it’s worth getting specific insurance relating to and covering the project. This can protect you not only from theft and vandalism but also (depending on the policy) from natural disasters, delays and the collapse of your contractor or a key supplier.
2. Invest in physical security
Locks, bolts, chains, walls and high fences have been in use for thousands of years and they work. It’s essential to take basic, physical security precautions including:
– Removing all keys from vehicles and immobilising them
– Insisting contractors take their own tools home at the end of the day
– Store valuable materials in the most secure areas, such as a garage or completed interior room
3. Hire a security team
Sites are most vulnerable after dark as they’re deserted and typically hard to see into. In addition, passers-by struggle to spot nefarious activity, often mistaking it for legitimate (if oddly timed) work. As a result, a security patrol or virtual oversight is incredibly valuable. If you’re extending your home, you probably can’t afford a three-man, two-dog patrol team but you can rent a CCTV camera or two. Many firms offer remote monitoring of cameras, or you can set a motion sensor to alert your phone and check yourself.
4. Go for just-in-time materials delivery
Don’t let materials sit around on site waiting to be used. This is particularly important for high-value items such as copper piping, white goods and wiring. Ensure that any materials delivered have a planned use which is being immediately undertaken. If delays mean that work has slipped back, delay deliveries as much as possible to meet the new schedule. Freshly delivered, unused items have the highest resale value and thus are the most vulnerable.
5. Take advantage of national schemes
Tap into national networks designed to reduce thefts and catch criminals. As an example, you should report all thefts – even minor ones – to the police, as it helps them build up a pattern of activity. Minor thefts may also be investigative, as the criminals assess your security. You should also ensure that all tools and vehicles you are responsible for are registered with appropriate recovery agencies. The Equipment Register (TER) has been helping victims of plant theft recover their property for over 20 years, for example. You should also be wary of deals which seem too good to be true on materials, tools or equipment as they may have been stolen. National and international schemes like TER can help you check if an offer is real.