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:
Image source: Associated Schools of Construction, 2019
Let’s break a few of these down.
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.
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 and additional resources.
Type of Equipment
Percentage of Theft
Wheeled and tracked loaders
Generators, Compressors, Welders
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 construction equipment 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.
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 heavy equipment individually, there are some simple yet effective construction theft prevention solutions the construction industry can deploy at their job sites.
- GPS equipment tracking 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. It 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.
Contractors can protect their GPS trackers from being tampered with by installing protective shields, like the TennaCAGE, around them to ensure they are unable to be removed.
- GPS tracking geofences are 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.
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 or 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 helps but 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
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.
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.
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.
About Jhan Mughal
Jhan has been helping construction companies adopt Tenna technology for 5+ years. As Lead Customer Success Manager, holding a degree in supply chain management, Jhan looks at ways to help contractors improve their standard of operations for a successful Tenna rollout. He focuses on helping companies streamline and improve processes to enhance profit and productivity.