Construction site violence seems to be on the rise. Construction sites have often been the target of crime, particularly vandalism and theft. However, the boldness and violence associated with attacks on jobsites seems to be increasing. Solid protection against construction site violence is more important than ever at this time.
Many variables likely contribute to the increase in construction site violence. Here are a few things we believe to be affecting the amount of incidents reported on construction sites.
Multiple factors contribute to the increase in cost of materials over the last year. Tariffs and the state of the economy have pushed prices higher. The cost of lumber is up over 35% since January of this year. Copper prices have increased about 20% over the last year. Prices are projected to continue to rise for both! We know that both materials are essential in construction, and especially in the building of new homes. Oil prices have also increased, and it is likely that many other commodities will follow.
These increasing prices make the “reward” for theft greater and may make thieves more willing to risk being caught.
Similar to construction materials bringing thieves a good return, construction equipment is quite valuable. When construction equipment sits unattended on a construction site, thieves often see a low-risk, high-reward target. Less that 25% of stolen construction equipment is recovered each year. Because construction equipment does not require titles or registration, there is no database to reference to find out if equipment is stolen, making resale quite easy for thieves.
Estimates place the value of stolen construction equipment somewhere between $300 million and $1 billion annually, not even considering tools, materials, or cash stolen from constructions sites.
Why would a shortage in skilled labor contribute to theft and construction site violence? Many site superintendents have had to get creative in how they retain those skilled workers, which allows construction to continue on schedule. Some will pay the workers cash the same day, rather than waiting for payment through slower means from the construction company. What does that mean for those site superintendents? Cash on hand to be able to pay at the end of the day. If this becomes known to those willing to risk everything to steal it, it can put all workers on the site in danger.
The days of only nighttime thefts from unmanned construction sites are dwindling. Though those thefts were costly for companies, now thieves are getting bolder. Many are attacking construction site workers in broad daylight without hesitation, even right here in Houston. One man even lost his life when he was attacked inspecting new homes at a residential development earlier this year. While we don’t always know the motivation behind these attacks, the trend continues.
Outsiders are not the only sources of theft and construction site violence. Research has shown that many jobsite thefts often involve someone on the “inside.” It is more common than ever for workplace violence to occur, and unfortunately, the construction industry is not immune.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines workplace violence as “…any physical assault, threatening behavior, or verbal abuse occurring in the workplace setting.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports in the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries that in 2016, 9.6 per cent of 5,190 fatalities in the workplace were homicides (a full percent more than in 2015). OSHA states that almost 2 million people report workplace violence annually, and there are probably many more cases that go unreported. These are statistics that show the problem of increasing violence.
Placing visible surveillance and security systems on your jobsite can decrease theft and vandalism by up to 80 or 90 percent from the time of installation. Imposing surveillance units are visible day or night and place criminals on notice immediately. Flashing lights on the units draw extra attention to the fact that someone is watching those would-be thieves. These units provide protection with 24/7 surveillance coverage.
Knowing when and intruder has breached your site will help stop theft on your jobsite. Using the right technology, you can even have specific perimeters set up within your site where valuable equipment and materials are kept. If anyone crosses into those boundaries, you can receive an alert. The point is, you need the right technology on your jobsite that can detect an intruder and catch them in the act. Your site needs are unique and only with a site-specific plan will your equipment protect your site.
Professional monitoring around the clock will help to know exactly what is happening on your construction site, even if you are not there. In addition, technology such as pan, tilt, zoom cameras can record a possible breach even without a person actively controlling the camera. All of these features and more can help determine next steps to handle a possible breach. Accurate assessment also allows for contact with the appropriate parties (police, security guards, property managers, etc.).
The highly-trained professionals monitoring your surveillance systems act quickly. Because video-verified alarms demand priority in police dispatch, the response will be quick to a breach on your site. The professionals monitoring your site will relay real-time update to law enforcement as they approach the site. This means an arrest is much more likely. Apprehension of a thief not only allows for less down-time with property remaining onsite, it deters other would-be thieves from your site.
In conclusion, we know you want to protect your construction site, your employees and contractors, and your equipment and supplies. The best way to avoid construction site violence is to prepare for it and protect your jobsite. Theft on a jobsite is not only costly in value of tools, materials, or equipment stolen. It is costly in construction delays, insurance premiums, missed deadline penalties, time spent dealing with police reports and insurance claims, and much more. When you protect your site, you take a stand against construction site violence.