On-Site Magazine

Managing risks of theft

By David Bowcott   

Construction Risk Management

Loss of tools and materials can create unnecessary challenges on construction sites.

David Bowcott

Theft of tools, equipment, vehicles, or materials from a jobsite can be a very painful experience. This pain may be further exacerbated by the current supply chain issues and the impacts of inflationary pressures, since replacement may be more difficult than anticipated.

Theft in the Canadian economy may be brought on by any one of numerous factors, including growing economic hardship, the rising cost of goods and, in some cases, lack of product availability.

In the construction sector, lingering supply chain and inflationary pressures can be factors that cause theft as well, and these crimes often end up hitting victims twice as not only are they missing items they were relying on, they must now also deal with replacing missing items that could be scarce in the supply chain, or now more expensive.

There has never been a better time to go over your company’s strategies to manage construction jobsite theft, and there are several sound strategies your firm can implement.


If your company doesn’t already create project-specific theft risk assessments prior and during project delivery, you should start. Identify potential weaknesses in security, such as unsecured access points, inadequate lighting, or lack of surveillance system. Further, you also should assess where the valuable equipment is located on the jobsite and assess these specific areas of the site.

Using the output from the risk assessment, develop a clear and comprehensive site specific security plan. Ensure this plan includes the following:

Fencing and signage: The site should have strong fencing around its perimeter. Additionally, prominent signage should be displayed indicated the area is under surveillance and trespassers will be prosecuted.

Access strategy: Develop a controlled entry and exit system with secure access points. Have enough access points to ensure jobsite efficiency but don’t have too many so as to leave the site vulnerable to break-in. Consider using some of the site access technology now available in the market to vet those seeking access to the site and tied into site monitoring technology.

Adequate lighting: Ensure the entire site has sufficient lighting to allow people and security systems clear visibility of potential thieves.

Surveillance systems: Install video surveillance systems strategically across the entire site, ensuring vulnerable areas such as access points, high value areas and blind spots have digital visibility. Use high-quality cameras and advanced technology to ensure clear and quick warning to prevent and mitigate theft.

Inventory system: Ensure that a robust inventory control system is implemented on the jobsite for all tools, equipment, materials and vehicles. Digital solutions are available to make this system user friendly and easy to monitor.



Provide regular and comprehensive site security training to all stakeholders with access to the jobsite. Ensure all site personnel are trained to recognize suspicious behaviour, how to report incidents, and know the appropriate security protocol. There are several digital training technologies in the market that can provide ideal complements to in-person training to ensure continuous diligence on the site to prevent and mitigate theft.

Ensure awareness of measures required to secure valuable tools, equipment, materials, and vehicles. These can include:

  • Locks and alarm solutions;
  • Marking and tracking solutions (GPS and RFID tracking); and
  • Secure storage.


Ensure you have relationships established with local law enforcement to ensure prompt and comprehensive response to theft scenarios, and don’t forget that site inspections and audits should be executed on a regular basis to ensure best practices are being adhered to and to identify and treat any vulnerabilities.


And, finally, be sure that insurances, both project and practice policies, are sufficient for theft risk. It isn’t the only cost to replace the stolen item, but also the impact that certain stolen items could have on the job schedule.

Also ensure that any items that could impact the schedule are easy to identify. Create a recovery plan to ensure that replacement of those items is expedited, thus minimizing impact on a job’s schedule.

With construction project theft on the rise and the impact of theft having even great impacts on jobsite schedules, budgets and overall profitability, it is imperative that the construction sector develops proactive theft risk management protocols like those outlined above.

Times are tough and theft is a growing threat to the construction industry. Make sure you are putting your firm, and your construction partners, in a position to minimize the impact of this growing risk.


David Bowcott is the managing director, construction, at NFP Corp. Please send comments to editor@on-sitemag.com.


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