Construction Site Crime Prevention

Large construction sites are frequently victimized by the theft of machinery and equipment, tools and materials. Because they vary so much, different job sites will require different protective measures and programs. The following are a series of crime prevention recommendations designed to minimize or reduce the theft of property from the construction job site.

Identify Assets & Property
All assets on a construction site should be identified, inventoried, and tracked as closely as practical. A company identification numbering system should be developed. Corporate equipment should have some type of logo/advertising prominently displayed. Employees should be strongly encouraged or even required to have their personal property engraved with an identification number.

Surveillance of the Job Site
The company crime prevention coordinator should contact neighbors around the job site including residents, businesses, bus drivers, cab drivers, etc. and solicit their support in maintaining a safe and secure job site. Emphasize the concern for personal safety as well as property security.

Supervisory Personnel Should Control Keys
The control of keys is essential on a site. Keys should be issued to as few people as possible. The company crime prevention coordinator should maintain a log of issued keys including the type of key issued, to whom, on what date, and for what purpose. Unissued keys should be secured and extra keys should be kept to a minimum. Keys should not be hidden on the job site and key control numbers should be removed from padlocks. To prevent unauthorized duplication, keys can be “plugged” with a rivet through the bow as a means of preventing alignment needed for machine duplication.

Lock or Guard Gates When Not in Use
Gates to the job site should be kept to a minimum. Strange or unrecognized vehicles on the site should be challenged. If possible and practical to do so, uniformed guards should be utilized during working hours to check vehicles entering and leaving the job site. Gates should be closed and locked at night and on weekends.

Secure Tools & Equipment When Not in Use
Storage sheds or fenced areas should be provided on the job site for the secure storage of tools and equipment. When vehicular equipment is not in use, ignition keys should be removed and the cabs locked. Use metal shields on equipment windows to reduce vandalism. Oil and gas tank caps should be locked. Machines can be disabled with hidden ignition cutout switches.

Mark Your Equipment
Construction Equipment Should Be Engraved or Marked in at least 2 obvious and one hidden location. Use a hardened steel punch or etching tool to mark the serial numbers on the equipment. Report the loss of construction equipment to the police immediately.

Lighting the Job Site
Lighting can be an effective deterrent to theft and vandalism on the site. It is particularly effective in deterring the casual or impulse offender. Among the points on the job site that should be highlighted by lighting are the office trailers, equipment storage trailers, material storage yard, and any equipment storage areas. These areas should be illuminated to a minimum of 1 foot-candle at ground level and ideally should be visible from the most heavily traveled road bordering the site. Lighting systems triggered by a motion detector or a passive infrared sensor are also recommended for the job site. Such lighting gives the impression an intrusion has been detected and may also warn neighbors of potential intruders.

Fencing the Job Site
Fencing is particularly important on the construction job site. Ideally, the entire job site should be enclosed in sturdy fencing. If it is not practical to enclose the entire site, at a minimum the area around trailers and material storage should be enclosed. If possible, there should only be one or two accesses or gates through the job site fencing. This makes access control easier. Chain link fencing topped by multiple strands of barbed wire is recommended. Chain link fencing allows for surveillance by security patrols, police and by neighbors. Special attention should be given to the fencing of areas used to store hazardous materials, poisons, solvents, explosives, flammables, etc. It is recommended that employees either park their personal vehicles outside the construction fence or have a specifically designated parking area within the fence.

Security Companies & Guard Dogs
It may be advisable to employ the services of a bonded and insured security company either to maintain guard staff on-site or to make periodic patrols of the construction job site. Police departments often do not have the staff to make periodic patrols of the sites or may be tied up dealing with emergencies or other priorities. An advantage of using a contract private security service is that they can be given access to patrol inside the job site as well as the perimeter. They can also be given the responsibility for checking lighting and alarm systems on the job site, as well as the integrity of fencing.

General Security Recommendations
  • Enlist the support of employees in minimizing theft and vandalism. Report all vandalism and theft to the appropriate law enforcement agency immediately. Have serial numbers and information about markings on the equipment available when the responding officer arrives. Make sure there is a complete record of model and serial numbers of all equipment assigned to the project.
  • If possible, remove graffiti from the job site as soon as possible. Graffiti often spawns or encourages further graffiti.
  • “No Trespassing” signs should be prominently displayed on fencing or the perimeter of the job site. Such signs discourage unauthorized intrusion onto the job site and, if correctly worded, aids in the prosecution of apprehended trespassers. “No Trespassing” signs and other warnings of danger can help protect the company from liability for possible injuries to trespassers or strangers. Consult the local law enforcement agency or an attorney for appropriate wording of warning signs. Such “No Trespassing” and/or warning signs should be easy to read and large enough to be seen from a distance.
This list may be lengthy but if you're in the construction business, the time spent reading these tips and implementing them could save you a lot of time and money.