This post is part of a series sponsored by IAT Insurance Group.
Here are two true statements:
In Dallas, a 2018 Lincoln Ranger Welder and tools in a 20-foot container were stolen from an elementary school work site. Because the welder wasn’t a trailer, the thieves had to use equipment to lift the unit, which weighs more than 500 pounds. The welder and tools were never recovered.
In Miami, thieves were caught on video breaking into the staging area of a construction site. They broke down the gate, entered the yard with a truck and maneuvered around a wall to steal two 2021 Altas Copco compressors. Police investigated but no arrests were made. A supercharger was later recovered but never claimed.
Equipment and material theft on construction sites like this is on the rise. In fact, losses are estimated to cost as much as $1 billion annually. During times of economic downturn and instability, theft is likely to increase. It’s never been more important to take steps to reduce the risk of theft on your websites.
8 Best Practices to Combat Equipment Theft
Having strategies in place can help minimize the risk of theft on construction sites. Here are 8 tips to reduce the risk of construction theft:
1. Conduct staff background checks.
Performing background checks during the hiring process can help combat theft on your construction site. Background checks not only verify potential employees’ qualifications and past work history, but also detect any criminal activity. This includes:
- Contact previous employers and educational institutions to verify information provided by the applicant.
- Conduct a thorough criminal record check through a reputable third-party provider before making a hiring decision.
2. Know and monitor subcontractors.
Screening subcontractors is just as important as hiring employees. This includes performing background checks, verifying references and ensuring they have the experience and qualifications for the job.
Once hired, make sure they understand security policies and procedures. Discuss site access restrictions, such as no-go zones.
Monitor subcontractors using a log-in sheet or electronic access control system. Knowing who is in the workplace helps prevent unauthorized personnel from entering the premises without permission.
Most importantly, draw up contracts with your subcontractors that outline the specific requirements for each project and what happens if a security breach occurs. Contracts should clearly state who is responsible for securing tools and materials each day and explain the type of insurance coverage provided by the contractor in the event of theft or damage to equipment.
3. Train employees.
Employee training is a critical part of protecting construction sites from theft.
Train employees on how to identify suspicious activity around the workplace. This includes noting people or vehicles that seem out of place or signs that someone has tampered with locks or fences.
Train your staff in the appropriate safety measures to follow at the end of each day. This includes making sure all doors and windows are properly secured and locking tools and materials in a secure area such as a tool shed or storage container.
Remind your staff to always take valuables with them when they leave the workplace such as mobile phones, wallets and keys.
4. Increase visibility.
Dark construction sites could attract criminals; Adding lighting around your workspace can help reduce theft. Installing bright lights along roads, entrances, exits and storage areas will make it more difficult for criminals to remain undetected.
5. Add temporary fencing.
Fencing protects against theft and vandalism and helps create a safe environment for workers on construction sites, especially those in high-crime areas or those that are uninhabited for extended periods.
Common types of fences or barriers are available; This includes:
- Chain link fence
- Strong steel panels or mesh fencing
- Concrete barriers
Choosing the right barriers depends on your needs.
Follow local building codes when building fences around construction sites, as they may require certain standards to be met in order for them to remain valid insurance coverage options.
Regularly inspect and repair all temporary fencing for damage or weak points that could allow unauthorized persons to enter.
It is also recommended to install entry and exit gates that can be locked when the premises are not in use.
6. Control access to keys.
It is not unusual for those in the construction industry to leave equipment keys in tractors and equipment on site. Unfortunately, this situation leaves contractors vulnerable to theft.
Consider the following:
- Appoint people to secure and issue keys.
- Keep a record of who has taken out each key at any given time. This applies if any equipment is lost or an unauthorized person uses a key.
- Secure keys in a lockbox, safe or filing cabinet.
- Invest in electronic locks or digital key tracking systems, which allow you to track a key’s location at all times.
The other challenge is that many equipment companies use a universal key for all equipment, which makes it even easier to steal equipment from another job site. In high theft areas, contractors may find it worthwhile to invest in rekeying equipment or add an additional locking mechanism that can be accessed before the equipment is used.
7. Monitor the construction site and track your equipment.
Investing in security systems, such as CCTV cameras to monitor the site and installing motion-activated lighting, can help deter potential thieves from stealing or damaging equipment and materials left on site.
In addition to security systems, it may be necessary to hire security guards to monitor the workplace and report suspicious behavior. Security guards are useful at night and on weekends when construction activity is minimal. For areas with a particularly high crime rate, security guards can be useful 24/7.
Installing GPS tracking devices on equipment can help locate—and hopefully recover—stolen items.
8. Insure yourself against losses.
The right insurance can help cover losses from theft and damage caused by intentional acts, such as vandalism.
Consider the following factors when choosing the right policy:
- Construction work is in progress
- Type of coverage
- If the insurance covers replacement costs or just repairs.
Discuss these details with your broker beforehand to ensure you have the policy that best suits your needs.
By using these best practices, you take the necessary precautions to protect your assets and reduce the risk of theft.
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By Katie Bloomquist
Trends Fraud Education Development Construction