Jhan Mughal
Jhan Mughal Feb 16, 2022

Construction site theft prevention is one of the most prominent concerns for construction companies and contractors. According to a report published by National Equipment Register (NER), construction sites bear annual losses of up to $1 billion due to equipment theft. In the Pikes Peak region in Colorado alone, construction equipment theft cost businesses over $1 million in the first three quarters of 2021.

Construction jobsites often deal with the challenge of protecting their assets and equipment, especially when working in remote locations. Longer construction projects are more prone to theft and loss because assets are stationed unattended for an extended time period.

These conditions make it vital for construction companies to consider innovative and foolproof equipment tracking and management solutions to help protect their investments in their high-value resources. Thanks to the technological revolution occurring within the construction industry, solutions like real-time GPS tracking and geofencing enable contractors to prevent theft on construction sites and reduce their losses.

How? Let’s dive in to see what types of assets are at risk for construction theft and how technological solutions can assist.

 

Types of Construction Site Theft and Loss

Large construction equipment, tools, and lumber are more prone to theft at construction sites, although other assets can include building supplies, materials, appliances, parts and accessories. Different types of construction asset theft include the following:

theft-targets-graph

Image source: Associated Schools of Construction, 2019

Let’s break a few of these down.

Tool Theft

Small-scale construction supplies, including tools, are primarily at risk. While the monetary losses from a stolen tool may not be a lot, the cumulative effect of these thefts can damage the financial standing of your construction business in the long run.

The risk is not just external; employees can lose tools or can unfortunately contribute to internal theft in certain areas.

Even the general public can steal construction equipment and lumber after hours. Sometimes locals need lumber and other construction supplies for their personal home projects and take what they need from a construction site.  This is often known as a “crime of opportunity” because the perpetrator will wait and decide to take the equipment when no one is present on the construction site.

Therefore, using a tool theft prevention solution will not only help you designate each tool for an employee but also maintain smart inventory management.

Equipment Theft

Construction equipment is expensive and one of the most targeted assets by thieves. The main reason is their quick and high resale value. Construction companies must be extra careful if they are working at a location where they have to leave their large and heavy equipment unattended.

Professional thieves are mostly after large equipment such as bulldozers, excavators, etc. This requires a more deliberate attempt than simply loading some lumber in the back of a truck.

Here is a percentage of the most common equipment stolen from construction sites according to the NER.

Type of Equipment

Percentage of Theft

Skid Steer

70%

Wheeled and tracked loaders

36%

Towables

35%

Backhoe

22%

Tractors

14%

Wheel loader

8%

Utility vehicles

7%

UTV

7%

Excavators

7%

Forklift

3%

Bulldozer

1%

Roller

1%

Generators, Compressors, Welders

1%

 

Loss prevention in this domain can save construction companies from substantial financial losses over the years. For this, they can deploy innovative equipment tracking and management solutions for heavy equipment theft prevention.

 

Steps for Construction Site Theft Prevention

From heavy equipment to tools and building material, theft is an industry-wide issue. Not only does it cost construction companies a lot of money to replace stolen goods, but they also have to pay rental or repurchase costs for replacing stolen material, equipment, and tools. Plus, insurance premiums can increase exponentially.

Let’s look at the measures contractors can take to prevent or reduce construction site theft incidents.

theft-app-shop

Enforcing Theft Prevention Policy

Deploy a well-thought-out theft prevention policy and make sure that all subcontractors and employees adhere to it. A construction company must highlight and emphasize the consequences of theft and loss. This should also include workers borrowing tools for side jobs and/or removing any scrap material from the site for sale or personal use.

It is best to implement a zero-tolerance policy and be stringent about it. Let subcontractors and employees know that any incident, intentional or otherwise, will bear clear consequences. These can include reporting them to the law and pursuing legal prosecution against them.

Maintaining Detailed Inventory Record

Once a construction company has established and deployed an equipment and tool theft prevention policy, it is time to design an adequate inventory management system. This will allow them to keep track of every tool and piece of equipment the company owns and be able to organize tools and equipment at each job site categorically. Equipment management systems allow contractors to maintain records such as:

  • Number and types of equipment, parts/attachments, vehicles, tools and inventory at a job site
  • Precise asset locations on the map
  • The name of the employee who is assigned an asset for a task including the date and time of issue and return
  • Repair and maintenance schedules so equipment managers can ensure that they have backup equipment or tools in case one is down for maintenance.

It is wise to register all assets into the equipment management system for total visibility over equipment and inventory.

Securing Your Equipment and Tools

Thanks to current construction technology that now allows contractors to track each of their tools and equipment individually, there are some simple yet effective tool tracking and heavy equipment theft prevention solutions the construction industry can deploy at their job sites.

GPS Tracking

It is one of the best solutions and ideal for a site manager or equipment manager to receive emails or text alerts when an asset is removed from a site or yard.  

cage-solar-red-asset

GPS tracking can help give peace of mind. GPS tracking theft prevention technology systems use heavy equipment anti-theft devices on vehicles and heavy equipment to monitor asset location. This is one of the best ways to thwart construction theft and improve the likelihood of recovering assets that may have been stolen. Examples of equipment anti-theft devices can be found here.

Contractors can protect their GPS trackers from being tampered with by installing protective shields around them to ensure they are unable to be removed.

Geofencing

Geofencing a helpful tool for taking a proactive approach to theft prevention. A geofence is a virtual boundary around a jobsite or other company premises. They help prevent theft on construction sites as they can allow for appropriate personnel to be notified when assets leave a geofence during pre-defined times. Configuring notifications during non-working hours can alert of a potential theft or other unauthorized use of construction assets being tracked with GPS trackers when they are on the move during these timeframes.

Heavy civil construction managers and company owners are turning towards geofencing and GPS tracking to prevent theft on their capital-intensive assets. They are installing standard construction site theft prevention devices on their tools, vehicles, and other heavy equipment to reduce the risk of theft and increase the likelihood of recovery.

Deploying geofencing enables construction companies to get alerts, reports and messaging on a mobile phone app as well as via emails to respond to any theft incidents.

Additional Tips

While geofencing and GPS tracking theft prevention are the best solutions a construction company can use, here are some additional tips to help.

Adequate Lighting

Lack of lighting is one reason security or surveillance might miss any onsite theft. Having ample lighting throughout a job site or company premises can be a great help to expose trespassing and theft activity.

Locking it Away

While contractors cannot lock away big excavators, trucks, and bulldozers, they can undoubtedly secure smaller machines, devices, and tools. While not a foolproof method, this will help reduce losses by locking them all away in a secure container.

 

Benefits of Geofencing and GPS Tracking

Here are the added benefits of geofencing and GPS tracking.

Reduction on Insurance Premiums

One of the many notable monetary benefits of geofencing and GPS tracking for construction companies is a reduction in their insurance premiums. As these measures will help reduce loss and theft internally, insurance providers often consider contractors with these measures as lower risk companies and offer premiums at lower costs.

Peace of Mind

These proactive solutions can give contractors peace of mind that their assets are safe from construction theft incidents. If a theft event does take place, chances of recovery are higher with location pings and geofence alerts to help respond to incidents quickly.

Improving Accountability

When contractors know exactly where they have deployed their tools and equipment, they will be able to better assign them or regulate them across multiple sites. When employees know that a system is in place to track and assign assets, they are more likely to avoid misuse and abuse, leave them behind or consider stealing them.

QR technology is another option to help construction businesses in asset assignment, inventory control, accountability and more.  When using QR codes in collaboration with mobile technology, contractors can leverage mobile inventory management to track and enable their employees to record each inventory transaction or tool “check in/out” exchange in the field.

Reducing Your Losses

Construction assets large and small are not always lost due to theft. Often times businesses genuinely end up misplacing them. NER reports that construction industry asset theft ranges from 300 million to 1 billion approximately.

Construction companies can considerably reduce their losses by proactively using geofencing and GPS tracking theft prevention solutions.

Increasing Your Profitability

As a construction company implements site geofencing and GPS tracking with heavy-equipment anti-theft devices, they can gain a competitive edge in the market with better control over their fleet inventory and reduce losses against their bottom line.

 

Conclusion

If you are an owner of a construction company or a manager of a construction job site, preventing loss and theft on construction sites should be a top priority. For this, you can use all or any combination of the strategies mentioned in this post and reduce the chances of construction theft and loss.

Contact Tenna today to see how we can help protect your fleet from theft.

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About Jhan Mughal

Jhan is the Lead Customer Success Manager at Tenna.