Thieves view construction sites as attractive targets for the tools, lumber, copper wiring and appliances often found there. Due to an increase in thefts at residential construction sites in their jurisdiction, the Piece County Sheriff’s Department compiled a list of recommendations to better prevent construction site victimization. Since this problem isn’t unique to Pierce County, we wanted to share the information.
1. Identify Assets and Property
All tools, equipment and supplies should be inventoried and documented. Serial numbers should be noted and if items do not have a serial number, an identifying mark should be applied to establish ownership. This could be a contractor license number engraved on the item, or just the site address pained on a bundled load of lumber. These marks should in visible areas on the item, as well as one or two hidden locations. Employees should be encouraged to mark all personal tools. Secure all tools at the end of the work day by locking them on site or removing them.
2. Establish Relationships with Neighbors
Take the time to introduce yourself and your project to the neighbors immediately around the work site. Provide your contact information and details about when your crews will be on site. This information will allow neighbors to determine if something suspicious is happening at your site and allow better reporting to law enforcement. If the neighborhood has a block watch group, providing the same information to the group’s leader establishes a larger network of people watching your site.
3. Fully Identify Your Employees
You should have identifying information about all of your hired help on file, whether the person is there throughout the construction project or just for a day. Document physical descriptions, addresses, government-issued identification numbers and any associated vehicles the employees may use. This information will assist law enforcement in the event your site is victimized.
4. Schedule Deliveries Wisely
Have the construction materials delivered early in the week or on the day they will be used. Getting materials delivered on a Friday before a weekend will significantly increase your risk of being victimized.
5. Secure the Site
Designate one person to walk through the construction site at the beginning and end of each work day. The person will be able to track how the site is kept and distinguish any disturbances not connected to the work crews. Chances are this person will be the first to notice
any thefts at the construction site.
6. Establish Site Surveillance
Look at the possibility of a person remaining on site at all times or cameras being installed. During lunch breaks, designate a person to stay behind and watch the site.
7. Light up the Site
Thieves don’t like to be seen. If you have motion-activated lights, witnesses will be able to see what is going on at your location and get identifying information about the persons or the vehicles involved in a crime.
8. Identify Your Site
Signs with the property address, the name of the builder and an after-hours contact number can assist citizens reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement agencies, as well as responding officers.
9. Be Wary of Great Prices on Merchandise
Often an individual will approach construction sites and sell equipment at “too good to be true” prices. This is a way for thieves to unload stolen merchandise and to scope out a source to replenish inventories.
In the event you are victimized:
Contact your local law enforcement agency as soon as you determine victimization has occurred. Pull any documentation you have for the items that were taken, such as serial numbers, brands, models, builder-applied markings and any other information that will help in identifying the items. Talk to your employees and learn if the items were left unsecured or unattended. Check if residents around the construction site noticed anything suspicious at your site. File the incident report and accompanied documentation as soon as possible. Items are not considered stolen until they are documented on a theft inventory sheet and filed with a report. If you are unable to determine everything taken at the time of the crime, you may add to the list later. The sooner items are reported stolen, the greater the chance of recovery.