Stealing from construction sites has become a big business. Specialty insurer Great American Insurance Group notes that “losses due to theft and vandalism are in the billions of dollars.”
Some people will go to any length to steal — or protect — equipment and materials. Surveillance camera video from University Park, Texas, went viral after capturing a thief snatching a $1,200 saw — and two outraged members of the construction crew trying to stop him, by jumping on the hood of the car and ramming it, respectively.
The thief got away and, luckily, no one was hurt. However, contractors and workers regularly suffer financial loss. Fortunately, there are ways to add layers of physical security, including the use of portable storage containers from PODS.
Cost of Construction Site Theft
According to the most recent Equipment Theft Report from the National Equipment Register and National Insurance Crime Bureau, heavy equipment theft costs $400 million annually and sees only a 25 percent recovery rate — tractors, loaders, utility vehicles, and the like — reported to the police.
Losses create additional expenses and inefficiencies, beyond equipment cost. For example, there’s time spent filing police reports. An insurance claim can result in higher premiums.
Losing tools and materials can derail schedules and budgets, as contractors scramble to replace what was lost. A contractor who misses a deadline as a result of stolen tools may have to pay penalties for lateness under their contract, and when most construction equipment is left out in the open, it can be the unfortunate consequence.
Theft Helps Shady Competitors
Some thefts are one-off crimes of opportunity, others are part of coordinated and organized actions. It may be an individual, like the Washington state man who had $10,000 in missing materials. Police found bathtubs, sinks, fixtures, nails, lumber, wallboard, and more. He reportedly told friends he planned to build a house with the goods. One of the targeted contractors had lost $100,000 a year in theft.
Compared with other examples, that was small time. In 2017, law enforcement broke a criminal ring in Memphis, Tennessee, that had stolen $1 million in equipment and materials from residential job sites over 10 years. “The whole back yard was set up like a warehouse,” said Assistant Chief Deputy Mark Dunbar.
There’s a good reason. Thieves frequently sell stolen materials and equipment to others, including disreputable contractors. That Memphis ring was “selling it out of the house to roofers,” said Chief Deputy Floyd Bonner.
When they buy stolen materials, typically for a fraction of the above-board price, shady operators can offer lower project bids than legitimate businesses, which purchase materials and tools at full price. The frequently local nature of job site theft can mean that the stolen materials, tools, and equipment may have come from legitimate contractors who find themselves underbid.
Need for Real Security
Construction sites often do without even the most basic security measures, such as security fences with lockable gates and nighttime lighting. Materials and tools are not always in one location, so crews may not perform regular inventories that could uncover a theft sooner rather than later, and increase the chances of recovery.
Even standard security steps may not be enough, particularly for goods light enough to for thieves to easily carry. A trailer office generally doesn’t have enough room to store items.
To help keep equipment out of site and organized on-site, consider using a portable storage container from PODS. Containers come in a variety of sizes:
- 7x7x8 foot storage container
- 12x8x8 foot storage container
- 16x8x8 foot storage container
The height is enough to stand standard plywood or wallboard on edge. The two larger sizes will handle typical lumber and pipe lengths. Rolling doors give easy access without the need for additional ground clearance.
With a construction storage container on site, a contractor has flexibility with when they can take delivery of materials, rather than relying on just-in-time delivery. This can save time and money, as crews don’t have to wait if a vendor doesn’t bring materials exactly when expected.
During weekends, vacations or work stoppages due to inclement weather, PODS can fetch the unit and store it in a secure off-site facility, then return it when the job is about to resume.
To learn more about how PODS has created secure solutions for job site storage, call our experts at 877-BIZ-PODS.