Construction zones can be chaotic — people are constantly coming and going, and there are loud noises and lots of equipment in use at any given time. Theft is a concern because expensive tools and piles of high-value materials like wood and copper are out in the open. Here’s how contractors and future homeowners can keep a house secure during the building phase.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Construction Site Items People Steal
- 2 How to Protect Your Build Site
- 3 Securing a New Home During Construction
Construction Site Items People Steal
Construction sites are a prime target for burglars because there’s usually a lot of equipment and supplies lying around. With so many people coming and going all day, thieves don’t look as suspicious as they would robbing a neighborhood home. They most commonly steal these items from job sites:
- Handheld tools
- Large equipment
If you’re in the construction business, it’s not a matter of if people will try to steal from you but when. A 2021 survey in the Netherlands found that 71% of construction workers have dealt with theft at work in the past two years.
How to Protect Your Build Site
There are many ways to keep a construction site safe while building a new home. The best strategy is to take a multifaceted approach and create multiple barriers against criminals.
1. Perform Employee Background Checks
You’ll probably work with many people, including plumbers, electricians and general contractors. Run background checks to ensure they have a clean record, and hire people you trust. You should interview them, check their business reviews and ask other people how trustworthy they are. Above all, go with your gut — if someone gives you a bad feeling, don’t hire them.
2. Keep Inventory Records
Writing a list of all your supplies helps you track equipment on the job site. How many power tools do you have? How many planks of wood, bags of cement and leather gloves did you start with? Keeping thorough records is especially important for monitoring small items that could go missing without anyone noticing.
3. Put Away Keys
Leaving the keys in the ignition of your tractors, bulldozers and cement mixers is asking for trouble. Although it might sound complicated to steal heavy machinery, it happens all the time. Put the keys in a lockbox or collect them and take them home at the end of each day.
4. Chain up Equipment
It’s much harder to steal a truck chained to a backhoe than one parked on its own in an empty lot. Connecting equipment with heavy chains and locks adds another layer of difficulty for would-be thieves.
5. Erect Temporary Fencing
Depending on how long you’ll be working on the job site, putting up a temporary barrier might be sensible. A fence makes it more challenging to walk away with tools and equipment. It can be as simple as a chain-link fence or something more intimidating, like electric wire or netting. Not many tools are worth getting electrocuted over.
6. Set Boundaries
Clearly delineate construction zone boundaries to avoid anyone “accidentally” leaving the job site with an armful of tools. You can use a fence or flags to create a perimeter. Additionally, lay out a clear set of rules regarding personal equipment use. No one should leave the property with anything they didn’t bring in.
7. Keep Materials Inside
A pile of tools left out in the open is an attractive target for thieves. Although it may not be practical to keep larger equipment indoors, put away as much as possible at the end of each workday. You can store it in lockboxes or a storage facility and retrieve it every morning.
8. Lock Doors and Windows
It’s straightforward advice that applies to anyone trying to deter thieves — always lock any vehicles on the job site. Even without keys, burglars can sometimes steal machinery by hot-wiring it. The U.S. lost $7 billion worth of cars to burglars in 2020. Locking windows and doors is a strong deterrent for anyone looking for a crime of opportunity.
9. Use Security Cameras
Video surveillance systems allow you to monitor the entire construction zone remotely. Security cameras can alert you when there’s motion in the area, letting you catch thieves, vandals and trespassers in the act. Smart cameras can even hone in on people’s distinct facial features so you know who you’re dealing with.
Save the video recording of someone committing a crime and present it to the police as evidence. That helps you build a much stronger case than reporting a theft the morning after it happened.
Securing a New Home During Construction
Construction sites are vulnerable to theft, but you can take steps to protect them. Many thieves are looking for an easy target — they’ll give up if they encounter too many obstacles. Common-sense behaviors like locking vehicles, keeping an inventory list and performing background checks go a long way toward securing a house under construction.