Theft is not a new problem. In fact, it likely dates back to shortly after the concept of property first came to be. Over the thousands of years since that time, many solutions have been offered to address the problem – but each of them has been mere sticking plasters. Moreover, it’s unlikely that any great moral advance will cause would-be robbers to mend their ways in the near future – which means that theft is a problem that must be taken serious by any person or organisation which owns things.
In particular, it’s construction site operators who are the greatest risk of theft. This is so for a number of reasons – but three stand out as significant.
Construction sites are physically accessible
Almost by definition, a construction site is structurally incomplete. Perimeter walls are not yet in place to deter intruders, as they might be once the building is complete. Instead, an easily-climbed temporary fence is the only barrier to surmount.
Construction sites require a lot of workers
Another feature of construction projects is the variety of different specialist workers required. Bricklayers must be brought in to build walls; electricians to sort wiring, plumbers to install piping. Very large projects might involve thousands of workers – and many of them will be present only very temporarily as their role in the project might be completed in just a few hours.
With all of these unfamiliar faces wondering around, would-be thieves have the perfect cover under which to enter the site. After all, security staff can’t be expected to memorise every face they encounter – especially in an environment where people are coming and going constantly.
Moreover, this abundance of staff means that keys to secure areas are constantly coming and going. A former employee might pass their key to a thief, who will then have access to sensitive areas of the site.
Construction sites carry high-value goods
The two reasons we’ve examined thus far are concerned mostly with the potential risk of failure (or capture) for any would-be thief. But perhaps the thing that greatly attracts would-be thieves most to construction sites is the quality of the goods they contain. Construction sites are filled with expensive equipment and materials which can be easily sold on the black market – exactly the sort of property that a thief is most drawn to.
It’s important to note that while construction sites do occasionally experience well-planned and executed attacks, for the most part it’s spur-of-the-moment, opportunistic thieves which inflict the most damage. A worker might one day leave a gate unlocked, or a piece of equipment unattended – and some passing criminal might seize the initiative. Of course, this means that sites with heavy traffic passing by suffer the most attacks. This risk should be identified at the early stages of the project, and countered with an equally relative investment in security.
What can I do to prevent theft?
As is the case with all crime, the best approach is the proactive one. By discouraging theft before it happens, and putting into place security measures which can identify thieves after the fact, you’ll save yourself an enormous amount of time, money and hassle in the long run. Failure to take such measures will mark you out as an insecure site – toward which thieves will assuredly flock.
If there’s a potential source of vulnerability on your site, then it will likely stem from some error on the part of your workforce. For this reason, it’s important for staff to be vigilant at all times to the danger. While it would be nice to be able to trust everyone’s judgement, the reality is that judgement can be faulty – even if the worker in question is extremely competent. By having them adhere to a procedure when securing and using high-value equipment and materials, you’ll hugely reduce the potential for a lapse in concentration.
Of course, no amount of procedure is going to help if it’s not adhered to. This is where frequent spot-checks and records are useful. By identifying problem areas and taking steps to address them, you can improve the security culture on your site – and thereby safeguard it against theft.
When it comes to would-be thieves, there is no greater deterrent than light. That’s why most prefer to operate at night-time. After all, the risks of being caught are enormously higher when you’re more visible.
Lights at night-time therefore play a crucial role in deterring would-be criminals. Motion-activated, high-intensity security lights will ensure that would-be thieves have nowhere to hide – and that your night-time security staff will be alerted to any intrusions well in advance.
One of the most ubiquitous and obvious tools in the fight against theft is the trusty CCTV camera. Closed-circuit technology has come a long way in the last few decades, and it’s more powerful and affordable than it ever has been.
On construction sites, mobile CCTV solutions, which incorporate both a camera, remote storage, power and a wireless connection to a central monitoring station, have proven very useful. Cameras usually come mounted atop tall pillars, with all of the circuitry housed in a wheeled base at the bottom. This allows for a site to be monitored from above. Such setups are virtually immune from sabotage, as there are no trailing cables to cut.
In order to minimise the amount of high-value stock on site at any one time, you’ll want a delivery policy which ensures that goods arrive only immediately before they’re needed. Of course, this is easier said than done – and site managers will often seek to give themselves a little bit of breathing space by having materials and equipment delivered with a day or so to spare.
A far better approach, from a security perspective, is the ‘just in time’ one. Provided that you’re running a tight ship, you should be able to do this without endangering the progress of the construction.