No Easy Solution
Jobsite theft may be the cost of doing business, but that that cost can vary wildly by community, builder, time of day and mitigation practices.
Industry figures put the estimate at over $1B dollars annually. And unfortunately theft is on the rise since the pandemic took hold nearly one year ago. The owner of one security firm in Texas, himself a reserve police officer with strong links to law enforcement, provided some insights on how best to deal with theft.
“This problem is very complex,” said our source. “Theft goes on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” Naturally the location plays a major role.
Communities that are close to major arterials and highways get more action than communities tucked within dense residential neighborhoods.
The type of criminal also varies. Our source mentioned how he has even caught families with children. He said, “The dad gets out of the truck and starts loading material and the kids and wife jump out and help. Their excuse was the wood at Home Depot was too expensive.”
Many thieves are people who know the framers and laborers. They get tipped off on which sites are the easiest to hit. The average thief is on site for about 10 minutes, making it extremely difficult to stop in real time. Their vehicles are typically run down junkers with plates that may or may not be real.
Our source says the best deterrent is a live body on site at all times. However, that is also very costly. According to Digital Guard Force, even a low paid guard can run $6000-8000 per month. The offset is how much product are you losing to theft each month?
The next level down is live video surveillance, 24-7. Our source says if you go this route, you had better check the providers cameras. He recommends at least 2 megapixel resolution so that the camera can capture a license plate.
He said, “Without the plate, you will have a hard time tracking the culprit.” Your cameras should have changeable shutter speeds and the ability to add special lenses. Placement is critical. Most cameras are good for 30-40 feet horizontally. Don’t expect one camera to do the work of two.
Other Helpful Measures to Avoid Jobsite Theft
- Signage: Signage is simple and low cost. Consider adding a multilingual sign that reads, “24-Hour Video Surveillance, we know where you mother lives.” Another sign offering rewards to those who turn in thieves or provide valuable information may also help.
- Security lighting: Motion-censored lights or extra lighting can deter crime. Lighting is also a prized resale item, so it should be impervious to theft.
- Barrier protection: Adding some type of barrier protection, like a fence or guardrail, makes it tougher for thieves to get in and take supplies out.
- Controlled access to the jobsite: Having just one entry point in and out of the jobsite will cut down on crime. Geo-Fencing, a virtual barrier using GPS to track behaviors using mobile phones, has proved helpful for both crime prevention and inventory.
- Documentation: Always photograph, document, and record the serial numbers for equipment, tools, and material goods for insurance purposes in the event that something is stolen. This will be extremely handy if a company or individual wants to claim any stolen items with an insurance company.
- Enlist your work crews: Schedule multilingual orientation meetings with your leads, subs and laborers. Set theft target goals for the subdivision. Payouts could include cash bonuses, free lunch and/or tools donated by your vendors for each month you meet the targets.
At Belco Forest Products, we care about the well-being and success of our customers and partners. So, whether or not you have experienced jobsite theft historically, these helpful measures can help protect your property. It’s a complex issue, and difficult to eliminate completely, but taking preventative measures can help to deter thieves and keep your community safe.