A surge in costs and equipment theft shifts construction towards monitored security

Cameras on top of a VPS Smart Tower

As the con­struc­tion sec­tor finds it feet again, and the costs of mate­ri­als soar, once again build­ing sites become prime tar­gets for organ­ised crim­i­nal gangs.

The con­struc­tion sec­tor is now expe­ri­enc­ing a boom peri­od fol­low­ing the sup­pres­sion of build­ing work dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. But along­side the pipeline of busy works sched­ules, there is also a surge in site thefts, fur­ther exac­er­bat­ed by the short­age of mate­ri­als. The con­se­quence is delayed projects and spi­ral­ing costs as some com­po­nents’ prices soar.

The price of cop­per has soared by 70% in just a year, whilst lithi­um car­bon­ate, used to accel­er­ate sil­i­ca based cements and mor­tars, has all but dou­bled, ris­ing by 97%. 

The con­struc­tion sec­tor has always been a tar­get for thefts of valu­able plant and equip­ment.” com­ments Paul Corten, Sales Direc­tor for lead­ing tem­po­rary secu­ri­ty provider, The VPS Group. But we are increas­ing­ly see­ing oppor­tunis­tic thieves being replaced by organ­ised crim­i­nal gangs, as the price of plant and mate­ri­als means greater rewards for the risks they take. Sur­pris­ing­ly, the major­i­ty of con­struc­tion sites do not rely on Mon­i­tored Tech solu­tions, even though these sys­tems pro­vide the most effi­cient form of secu­ri­ty and prevention.” 

In Jan­u­ary this year a pan-Euro­pean crime gang were con­vict­ed in a Bel­gian court over a €1‑million series of thefts of cranes, exca­va­tors and trail­ers. The haul, includ­ing a €460,000 cement pump­ing truck, a €108,000 bulk tanker and €50,000 worth of trail­ers, were stolen, resprayed and sold to unsus­pect­ing cus­tomers across the UK and Ireland. 

A month before that, a gang of met­al thieves had been jailed for steal­ing 92km of cable over sev­er­al raids in the UK.

The Con­struc­tion Equip­ment Asso­ci­a­tion (CEA), own­ers of the CESAR scheme (the plant mark­ing and reg­is­tra­tion ini­tia­tive), not­ed a wor­ry­ing increase in con­struc­tion machin­ery theft in the UK since the intro­duc­tion of lock­downs caused by the Coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic. One com­pa­ny, the Clan­cy Group, report­ed an increase in theft of con­struc­tion machines from their sites by as much as 50 percent.

Mr Corten adds: Deploy­ing tra­di­tion­al manned secu­ri­ty guards can ensure there is a visu­al deter­rent on-site with a quick response to inci­dents, but there can be sub­stan­tial costs, espe­cial­ly for 247 manned guard­ing. Plus they are only able to be in one place at one time, which is a prob­lem for larg­er sites. And they are, after all, human: they may not stay alert for night shifts, or they miss crit­i­cal areas of the site.”

Increas­ing­ly, site secu­ri­ty man­agers are turn­ing to mon­i­tored tech­nol­o­gy to pro­vide more sophis­ti­cat­ed solu­tions that enhance, improve or replace guards, with­out com­pro­mis­ing the secu­ri­ty of the site, and often for far less cost.

Sev­er­al tech­nolo­gies have been specif­i­cal­ly geared to pro­tect con­struc­tion sites from intrud­ers, and can dif­fer­en­ti­ate between gen­uine breach­es and false alarms, as well as secure and detect util­i­ty faults. 

The lat­est CCTV Smart Tow­ers com­prise tech­nolo­gies with three key ele­ments. They oper­ate with­out an exter­nal pow­er sup­ply, so there is no extra cabling get­ting in the way of the work­force. They are high­ly flex­i­ble and can be rapid­ly moved, adapt­ing to the site project devel­op­ment. And they can be ful­ly loaded, with the lat­est high-def­i­n­i­tion cam­era tech­nol­o­gy that can see in day­light or at night, with addi­tion­al sen­sors all linked wire­less­ly, throw­ing a wide secu­ri­ty net’ over an entire loca­tion.” Con­cludes Paul Corten.

CCTV secu­ri­ty sys­tems can be mon­i­tored local­ly or remote­ly 24 hours a day, with ever more sophis­ti­cat­ed soft­ware ana­lyt­ics that have helped sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce the chance of false alarms. Accred­it­ed com­pa­nies have SSAIB cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to pro­vide clients with that addi­tion­al safe­ty of know­ing their secu­ri­ty provider is oper­at­ing safe­ly and securely.