Theft of equipment from construction sites has been on the increase since the pandemic. While much theft is opportunistic, sophisticated gangs target expensive and high-tech equipment, including monitoring devices. Here, Emily Norman, Business Development Manager at KP Acoustics Group, offers some novel tips for deterrence and prevention.
Theft from construction sites is a major issue, raising costs and causing project delays. According to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Building, 21 percent of respondents experience theft on a weekly basis. Following the pandemic, factors such as long lead times for equipment and a worsening economic climate are being blamed for increasing the problem.
Opportunistic theft is more easily deterred by simple security measures such as secure perimeter fencing, CCTV cameras and padlocks. Sophisticated criminal gangs, however, are harder to deter. These criminals know what they are looking for and target sites for expensive equipment like heavy machinery and their components or add-ons, or monitoring devices. Rail infrastructure projects are often a key target — it is sometimes necessary to go further than the standard measures. Not all equipment is equally vulnerable to theft, so considering the costs and risks of different types of equipment at the earliest opportunity is sensible advice.
Beyond traditional deterrence
Deterrence and prevention of theft is something that can be considered at the design stage. If thieves can see large, shiny equipment they are more likely to target it. A device that is designed to be discrete and inconspicuous is less likely to be targeted. If a thief encountered an eNView device, for example, they are unlikely to know what they are looking at — the technology is housed in a compact black or white box which has been designed with discretion in mind.
Other design features can enhance security. Having security screws and a bracket that is difficult or impossible to move is a good option. Some monitoring devices come with brackets which cannot be removed by thieves without destroying the device. Although this cannot deter vandalism, it can reduce the incentive for theft as there is no resale value in equipment that has been destroyed.
Another key security feature is the presence of GPS trackers. Unfortunately, sophisticated criminals are often able to recognise the modem and remove the GPS tracker. Modern equipment is therefore designed to prevent this. In Zephyr air quality monitors, and eNView, there is an integrated GPS modem which cannot be removed without destroying the device.
An internal backup battery to power the GPS tracker is also a great option. Much like the battery in an iPhone, this is an integrated component which cannot be removed. The device will therefore still be trackable for several days after it is stolen, although the thieves themselves are unlikely to be aware of this.
Storing more expensive, high-tech equipment in more secure locations on-site should also be considered outside of working hours to prevent the theft of important equipment on construction sites. However, it is not always possible to move large, heavy-duty equipment. Unlike many outdated monitoring devices, KP Acoustics’ high-tech noise, vibration and dust monitoring device, eNView, weighs only 1.6kg, making it easily transportable and much more feasible to store in a secure location where it is less likely to become a target of theft.
Some criminals might know what they are looking for but most of them, just like the rest of us, struggle to keep up with the latest technology. It might seem counter-intuitive, but investing in the most up-to-date monitoring technology is therefore one way of making your equipment less likely to appeal to thieves. High-tech devices can sometimes come with a higher price tag, but not always. As tech gets better, the costs often reduce, so you can get a better kit with a discrete design to deter theft, such as eNView, for less money. Do your research and use your money wisely in today’s economic climate by investing in higher-quality equipment to give you the ability to better protect your construction site from theft.
Theft at construction sites is not something that can be easily solved. For sites where expensive and sophisticated monitoring equipment is stored, you need to think beyond the traditional security measures. Modern devices should be designed with security in mind and by investing in the latest technology, you reduce the risk of becoming a victim of crime.
KP Acoustics Group offers a full range of acoustic services including vibration, noise and dust monitoring. To explore their environmental monitoring services, visit kpacoustics.com.