construction site security

In South Africa, even a 30-tonne excavator isn’t safe from theft. One Free State company lost its excavator – valued at R1 million – to a group of thugs, who overpowered people on a site and simply drove it away.

Theft of expensive equipment, tools and materials, as well as computers and cash, costs South African construction companies a fortune each year.

However, there are steps that companies can take to minimise the risk of equipment theft from construction sites.

Equipment theft is a global problem

Equipment theft isn’t unique to South Africa. The presence of expensive equipment in one place is tempting to criminals worldwide.

In most countries, construction sites suffer from thefts that cost companies and the construction industry millions. In the United States, theft costs the construction industry more than US$1 billion each year. In the European Union, the figure is €1.5 billion and Australia records Aus$650 million in losses annually.

Construction site theft in South Africa

In South Africa, it’s estimated that construction site theft costs around R1 billion each year. Only 6% of stolen equipment is recovered.

With extreme inequality and poverty, this is unlikely to improve, so construction companies must secure their sites.

Factors that add to risk for construction sites

Construction sites are targeted by thieves because of specific factors. These include:

  • difficult or expensive to secure
  • lack of loyalty due to high worker turnover and poor job security
  • equipment and materials can be sold easily
  • difficult to prove ownership of property, especially materials.

Ways to minimise the risk of equipment theft

Here are ways to improve your construction site security and minimise losses.

Perimeter fencing

A secure fence stops unauthorised people from entering. Where this isn’t possible, a lockable corral should be created for expensive machinery.

Access control

If the budget allows, a 24-hour security guard ensures no-one can wander in. Only supervisors should have keys or access codes.

Security systems

Alarms, CCTV cameras and motion-detector lights help deter thieves. Keep your construction site well lit.

Zero-tolerance policies

Make it clear to all employees that there’s a zero-tolerance policy on theft or infractions that may lead to theft, such as letting unauthorised people on site. Background checks are vital.

Secure storage

Install secure on-site storage for smaller equipment and electronics. Keys to equipment should be locked away 24/7.

Record keeping

Keep an up-to-date and comprehensive stock list of the equipment and materials on site to make it clear to workers that pilfering will be noticed.

Equipment marking

Clearly and thoroughly label equipment and machinery with your company logo and colours. This deters theft because it makes equipment harder to sell.

Machinery parking

Don’t park machinery where it can be used to scale fences. Make machines harder to drive away by parking with lowered blades and buckets.

Satellite tracking

Satellite tracking is a deterrent and means of recovery. Ensure tracked vehicles and equipment are clearly marked.

What KH Plant offers

We don’t specialise in construction site security at KH Plant or offer expert advice. However, we do know what a valuable investment construction equipment can be – and that it’s vital for companies to keep their construction sites secure.

At KH Plant, we specialise in restoring Caterpillar 140G, 140H and 140K motor graders and components to as-new condition – so you can get the benefits of a new motor grader at a fraction of the cost of a new machine. Contact us for more information or to discuss your needs.

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