Back view of a man in dark clothing and carrying a bag with a construction site ahead of him

With crimes like theft and trespass already costing the construction industry a staggering £800 million per year, it now seems that things are getting worse.

According to a survey carried out by site security firm, BauWatch, 60% of construction professionals in the UK have seen crime on energy, infrastructure and commercial construction projects worsen over the past year. Read this week’s blog for more of the survey results and some ideas about how to mitigate the risks by maintaining good security.

A huge problem for the industry

After surveying 500 construction workers, BauWatch found that, alongside the 60% seeing crimes worsen over the past year, 60% also believed that crimes were becoming more sophisticated and 65% reported higher risk in winter. Incidents of theft and trespass both rose in the months after the clocks are turned back and the sites are plunged into darkness earlier.

Some of the key issues are what’s been known across the industry for a long time (e.g. tool theft and vehicle break-ins) but, whilst that’s often been opportunistic, criminals are now becoming more sophisticated with sites often being targeted after they’ve been scoped out via the use of drones.

BauWatch’s managing director, Alexis Potter, said:

“Construction sites are ripe targets for theft, with valuable machinery, materials, tools, and appliances at every turn. But our research suggests criminals are becoming more brazen and the situation is worsening.

“The best way to minimise the impact of theft is to deter criminals from entering at all. As the nights get darker, firms need to take appropriate preventative action against theft.”

Five ways to fortify your site

While crime remains a difficult challenge to solve, there are some preventive measures that construction sites can take. If you think your site might be at risk, here are five tips:

  1. Light it Up: Banish dark corners with strong, energy-saving lighting. Motion sensor lighting fixtures that picks up on any movement can be effective, particularly if they are connected to other security systems such a surveillance cameras.
  2. Lock it Down: At night, secure equipment in storage containers and lock up machinery (use tamper resistant locks with keys only held by a supervisor or security operative). Be sure to cover loose materials like bricks or concrete mixes with plastic sheeting.
  3. Build a wall: Create a perimeter fence around the site that hides valuables, makes entry more difficult and has signs to warn potential trespassers that they will be prosecuted. Corrugated hoarding with a smooth surface works well.
  4. Eagle Eyes: Install wide-angle cameras at all site entry points and other key areas, connecting them to real-time alarms for maximum protection.
  5. Professionals on Patrol: Hire professional SIA-accredited security guards to patrol the site. Not only does this deter crime but also ensures someone is there to react instantly in the event of an incident.

The increase in construction crime is a blow for an industry that’s already, in recent years, had to grapple with rising costs and ever-tightening budgets. But, these don’t only affect costs; they can also negatively impact on project timelines and be damaging for worker morale.

Sheriff Construction and our sister company, Limon Homes, has not been immune to this problem and has taken steps to maximise security across all the sites where we work, including installing the best surveillance devices and ensuring our operatives are vigilant in keeping valuables locked away. Given the new methods being used by criminals, we would ask our workers to let us know if they spot any drones above or nearby their site so that additional precautions can be taken.

Let us know if you’ve got any other tips for site security by commenting over on our Facebook or LinkedIn pages.


Feature image: Freepik