Why Construction Site Theft is a Much Bigger Problem Than You Thought

It should be no surprise to learn that thieves target construction sites like wolves hunt sheep. They’re easy targets. Most sites are poorly lit. And, they’re unmanned during the night. 

There’s another reason why construction sites are so popular with thieves. Those places are littered with high-value items to steal.

Increased Construction Site Theft Linked to Lumber Prices

Let’s start with the base materials, like wood. Prior to the pandemic’s untimely arrival, lumber prices were already rising due to trade tariffs. Then, COVID-19 got going full-speed and forced the entire U.S. lumber industry to halt most of its production. Nobody freaked out about this because the housing market in 2021 was expected to take a dive, anyway. Only, it didn’t.

For reasons not even the CDC can explain, the pandemic drove an unprecedented demand for houses, which caused a boom in new home construction across the country. Case in pointnew houses have historically accounted for only 10% of available homes on the market. In 2021, they make up 25% of the current ‘homes for sale.’

The result is an all-too-real lesson in basic economics: lumber’s low supply and high demand have increased its price by more than 300% since April 2020That makes it an attractive asset on any thief’s wish list. Lumber is valuable, easy to steal, and a cinch to resell. And, don’t even get us started on copper.

 But, base materials are merely the appetizers in this burglar’s buffet. Your construction site also provides an all-you-can-steal supply of appliances, power tools, and heavy equipment.


This is what your construction site looks like to thieves.
And they do come back for seconds.

A Simple Question of…
When’ Will Theft Happen to Your Construction Site?

Right about now, you’re probably wondering if thieves will target your site. A more realistic question would be, When?

If criminals haven’t already cased your construction site, it’s because you’re building a police station. That’s the only plausible reason. AMAROK has been in the commercial property security business for more than 40 years, so trust us on that point.

Still not convinced? Just look at the numbers. According to the National Equipment Register, construction site theft costs the industry up to $1 billion each year.

Plus, the recovery rate of stolen equipment and materials is less than 20%, meaning you won’t get much of it back.


How to Prevent Construction Site Theft:

Let’s debunk a myth, for starters. Being fully insured is NOT a theft-prevention tactic. Your insurance policy may pay for the value of the materials or equipment that were stolen, but it won’t replace the time you spent dealing with the theft. It won’t cover the cost of your reputation with customers.

Real construction site theft prevention is a deliberate action you take with one goal in mind: To make it as hard as possible for someone to steal from you.


4 Construction Site Theft Prevention Strategies

1. Enforce Your Theft Prevention Policy
If you don’t have a site security plan, then get one. Make sure all your employees and subcontractors know the policy. It should include things like, ‘Borrowing tools or removing scrap for personal use is prohibited.’

2. Secure Your Site
If you think hooking up some fancy video cameras constitutes ‘site security,’ then consider this story.  (Spoiler alert: the thieves stole the security cameras, too.)

A better approach is to surround your site with a solar-powered 7,000-volt perimeter security fence. There are also portable electric fences available for temporary job sites.

And if you’re serious about construction site theft prevention, then consider a layered security approach. Our FORTIFEYE™ system integrates electric security fencing, video surveillance, and video monitoring to create the ultimate crime prevention solution.

3. Secure Your Equipment
Start by not leaving the keys in the ignition. You don’t have to go crazy or expensive with the next step—it can be as simple as removing batteries or wheels. Remember, the goal is to make it difficult for anyone to steal from you.

4. Keep Detailed Records
There’s a reason why cattle get branded. Equipment manufacturers created a standard 17-digit product identification number (PIN) system, starting with models built in 2000. Engrave every piece of your equipment with its respective number, then write it all down in a ledger (or spreadsheet) just in case.

The Moral of the Blog

And so, in this crazy world of construction where there’s a shortage of lumber but an excess of thieves, here’s a summary of the main points we hope you’ll take away:

      • The rising price of lumber is increasing the theft risk on construction sites.

      • You CAN take action to reduce that risk.

      • 98% of our clients have yet to experience a break-in after installing our electrified perimeter security fences. Just ask them.

    Finally, if you learned something of value today, please share this blog with someone you know. And thanks for reading!

    Contact AMAROK to learn more about our Ultimate Perimeter Solutions that are designed to deter thieves – so there is no need to deal with the aftermath of a crime.  AMAROK deters criminals in three ways: a shock deterrent, a physical deterrent, and an alarm deterrent. Installing The Electric Guard Dog system is an effective way to prevent theft at your business.

    About AMAROK
    AMAROK™ is a full-perimeter security company based in Columbia, South Carolina, that provides commercial security services throughout the United States and Canada. Specializing in electric fencing and perimeter security systems for commercial properties; AMAROK provides supplemental surveillance solutions, including cameras, lights, and alarms.

    Together, these business security services form the ultimate crime prevention solution for any commercial property or industrial business