Construction sites are a magnet for thieves – effective prevention tips

UK construction sites are prime targets for criminals. Informed estimates put construction industry losses to theft and vandalism at around £800m each year. The attacks range from smashed windows and daubed graffiti, all the way up to thefts of expensive capital equipment.

Whether the issue is a pilfered sandbag or a vanished bulldozer, 92% of UK construction site managers report having been affected by crime. Even when covered by insurance, such incidents result in project delays and cashflow problems, and they can adversely impact the morale of your workforce.

Site security has come a long way since the days of night watchmen with barking Alsatians. Protection, 2021-style, requires a multi-dimensional approach with input from colleagues and contractors.


Security for any business begins at team level, and the construction industry's reliance on contract staff makes it important to carry out thorough background checks on every single employee.

Many RG Security clients now require every applicant to hold a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) smartcard. The CSCS scheme was launched as a skills database, but it has also proved an excellent way of winnowing out the serious candidates from the chancers.

Once onboarded, staff should receive formal training in the mitigation of security risks, the importance of reporting crimes and in use of TER-Europe's plant register (see next section).

Estates and facilities

An obvious requirement in securing a construction site is to establish an effective perimeter. That might include panel, chainlink or other sturdy fencing, along with strong gates and tamper-resistant padlocks. The deterrent effect of a good fence cannot be overstated. It remains the case that the majority of thieves are opportunistic, and if they recognise that a break-in will require excessive amounts of effort, they'll look elsewhere.

Less obvious, but equally important...invest in good storage facilities with lockable chests, toolboxes and materials stores. Don't skimp on crew lockers, either. Your employees will be more likely to look after your gear if you help them look after their own.

Make sure that keys are *always* removed from vehicles and machinery when they're left unattended, and invest in immobilisers where appropriate.

And don't neglect to record the serial numbers and other details of your equipment! The best solution is presently reckoned to be TER-Europe's continent-wide online resource which gives you at least a chance of recovering stolen plant.

Lights, camera, action

Everyone knows that thieves prefer to work in the dark, and many companies have resourced appropriately.

However, even if you have your own tried-and-tested lighting and camera solutions for site security, it's a good idea to talk to a specialist contractor to learn about newer alternatives. Motion lighting, infrared spotlights, and LED floodlighting are all recent developments which can make a significant contribution to your peace of mind.

The same is doubly true if you want to install a CCTV system. The performance and accessibility of CCTV has made leaps and bounds over the past decade or so, and camera evidence is no longer a novelty in our courtrooms...

Security guards

The final piece of the security puzzle, and arguably the most important, is the hire of security guards. An alert guard is both an effective deterrent and a guarantee of fast response in the event of an attempted attack.

All security guards are not created equal, however. You will be well-advised to choose a partner company which has been accepted onto the 'approved contractor' scheme operated by the UK government's Security Industry Authority. (At RG Security, we're very proud of our 'approved' contractor status!) The SIA operates a training and licensing scheme, and you can be sure of the integrity and skills possessed by those who have undergone its training.

For an in-depth discussion of site security issues, contact us today.