Construction site crime

The construction industry is constantly fighting crime. Pre-pandemic, not a day would go by without a story of tools being stolen, diggers being pilfered and plant machinery disappearing in the dead of night.

Despite, crime generally dropping during the COVID-19 pandemic, unfortunately, the construction industry has bucked this trend.

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Man reveiwing security at a construction site

Construction Site Crime Stats: The Impact of Theft on the Building Industry

In this article, we cover a range of topics around building site theft and its impact.

Small and large businesses are affected, daily. Livelihoods are at risk. Project delays impact already tight margins and hammer profit.

Insurance claims take time. Time is money and is it really worth going through with the claim considering the timeframes they take to get sorted?

Table of contents

  • The growing impact of crime on the industry
  • How much does crime cost the construction industry?
  • Examples of recent construction site crime
  • What is being done to combat crime in the construction industry?
  • Construction site security – recommended systems

An image of a CCTV tower at a building site

The growing impact of crime on the industry

The has been a reported a 50% surge in crime during 2020.


Supply chains are struggling. Demand for materials remains high. Where usual avenues of opportunity for thieves dried up, building sites presented the perfect opportunity.

In a recent article by Construction Enquirer, Contractors and plant hirers are struggling to secure new kit.

The government has been pushing to get the market moving. However, with shortages in supply, extended delivery timeframes, and a rise in crime, the industry is facing some challenging times.

How much does crime cost the construction industry?

According to the most recent survey conducted by Allianz Cornhill, crime cost the industry £800m in 2019.

That’s the overall cost.

In 2020 around £70m of construction plant machinery was stolen. This includes excavators, compressors and even cranes.

More than 33% of construction firms are impacted by crime. And, 90% of items are never recovered.

An advanced security system on a site including CCTV and audio intervention

Examples of recent construction site crime

A digger worth £16,000 was stolen from a construction site near Arundel – Police are looking for witnesses after a yellow Volvo digger was stolen on 15th July. Littlehampton Gazette.

North of the border, there has been a dramatic rise in building and construction site theft – The Police are urging site owners to employ extra measures. Leader Live.

In Berkshire, Police has issued warnings to people to be vigilant after a tradespersons tools were stolen from his van in Thatcham. The Reading Chronicle.

Builders were left unable to work after a JCB telehandler was stolen from their site in Nottinghamshire. Nottingham Post.

In Hampshire, thieves took tools worth £20,000 from a firm’s lockup. The firm has now been targeted 7 times. New Milton Advertiser.

In Wiltshire, criminals smashed through walls to steal a construction site worker’s tools. Swindon Advertiser.

What is being done to combat crime in the construction industry?

Earlier in 2021, a specialist police unit was launched to specifically tackle the ongoing impact of construction site crime.

The new unit, the Agricultural and Construction Equipment (ACE) has a specific remit. Their job is tackling organised gangs targeting valuable construction and farm machinery and vehicles.

Construction site CCTV systems

Construction site security – recommended systems

When considering site security, there are several options.

Below is a summary of each.

For a more detailed overview, you can read our construction site security guide.

Construction site CCTV

Self-monitored CCTV systems, provide a level of visual deterrent to thieves. Furthermore, sharp footage can be used to spot threats and convict criminals.

Remote CCTV monitoring

Building site security guards are an expensive cost to any project. If you are looking to manage budgets effectively, and reduce the cost of security there is another option; CCTV monitoring.

For information you can read our blog:

What is CCTV monitoring and how does it work?

CCTV towers

The go-to system and installation for a building is a CCTV tower. When considering site surveillance, a CCTV tower gives you complete coverage. Furthermore, CCTV towers are often integrated with generators or solar panels. This helps where environmental factors prohibit the use of noisy generators 24/7.

Construction site perimeter

Perimeter security and protection

Coupled with an effective CCTV system, perimeter detection and protection systems help prevent criminals from gaining access to their site.

Sensors, beams, and other detection methods are used to perimeters remain secure.


Access control – door entry systems

To maintain a log of who is on site and who isn’t, trackable site access systems can be deployed easily.

These systems operate via keyless entry, fingerprints or keypads, or key fobs.

Alarms and remote alarm monitoring

Alarms are always a solid choice to detect and deter criminals. Like CCTV monitoring, there is also alarm monitoring. If the system is triggered, your offsite security team will deal with the threat either via your keyholder or The Police.

Construction site security

Security guards

Onsite security guards provide a physical human presence. CCTV and alarms do not.

Guards can patrol the site, and its perimeter looking for threats.

Interestingly, there is an ongoing conversation in the industry, around the use of technology. More to the point, will tech replace humans in the security sector?

We wrote about this recently:

Will Remote CCTV Monitoring Eliminate the Need for Physical Guards?

Find out more about our construction site security system services today

Experts in CCTV, remote monitoring, access control, perimeter security, and alarms.