Security breaches, like theft of materials and equipment or vandalism, cost the construction industry millions of dollars each year. To protect your job site and your projects, it’s important to have a good grasp on what crimes can occur and implement a prevention plan.

Not only are theft and vandalism costly to companies’ bottom lines, but they can also lead to diminished productivity. They can affect project schedules, which can in turn impact your relationship with clients. To make the matters worse, insurance premiums can rise if you have to file excessive claims.

Different construction companies are affected in different ways. Large firms, or those with $100 million in annual work volume, are more affected by theft than smaller businesses. On the other hand, vandalism can be impact smaller firms more.


Graffiti is the most common type of vandalism on construction sites, and cleanup can be expensive. On a larger scale, U.S. cities spend about $12 billion annually on graffiti cleanup. Research shows that removing graffiti within 48 hours dramatically reduces the recurrence rate.

Along with being costly, the cleanup required with any kind of vandalism can be time-consuming and take crews away from their regular duties and thus force projects off schedule.

Equipment and Materials Theft

Small tools, lumber, metals, appliances, and heavy machinery are some of the most commonly stolen items from construction sites. Nationwide, the equipment and materials stolen from construction sites each year amount to as much as $1 billion, according to the National Crime Information Bureau. Less than 20 percent of the stolen items are ever recovered.

On top of the theft’s direct costs, construction business owners may lose time filing police reports and insurance claims. Equipment or materials from other projects may need to be moved around to meet schedules, which can cause further delays elsewhere.

Setting Up a Security Plan

Too often, construction sites lack security and loss prevention systems. Some of the most common security issues include poor overall security, unsecured job sites at night and on weekends, and not having a proper tracking system for equipment and materials.

Protecting job sites from theft and vandalism can vary depending on the size of your construction company and scope of your project. Here are some tips for ramping up security on your site:

  • Set up an inventory system for materials and equipment
  • Keep detailed records
  • Lock up keys to equipment—off-site, if possible
  • Chain up tools and equipment together
  • Hire security guards over long periods when crews will be away
  • Control access points
  • Keep the site well lit
  • Invest in security cameras
  • Add security signs saying the site is monitored 24/7

Even starting small can go a long way in securing your job site. Implementing one or several of these tips can make a difference in protecting your materials, equipment and hard work.