Protecting your construction site from theft

Protecting your construction site from theft

The Covid-19 epidemic proved just how vulnerable machinery can be to theft, but protection is at hand. Professional Builder reviews the security procedures you should be putting in place.

When the law-abiding contractor withdrew so the criminal gangs moved in. During the lockdown plant and machinery was often abandoned on site making it a relatively easy target for thieves, whilst vans were motionless for days, or even weeks, on end. With the trades largely back on the tools, now is the optimum time to review your security procedures, and make sure that you are fully conversant with the latest threats.

The theft of commercial vehicles, and their contents, has actually been on upward curve for the last few years, and Professional Builder has regularly offered security advice in this column. When it comes to selecting targets thieves will follow the path of least resistance, so parking sensibly, marking your tools and investing in physical security, such as a steering wheel locks, or a Van Vault will all play their part.

When it comes to plant, the kind of kit that small builders own – compressors, generators or micro and mini excavators – can often be at most risk because it can easily be spirited away in the back of a van, whilst security levels in certain makes of LCV have been a bone of contention for the construction industry for some time.

Security is always about adopting a multi-layered approach, and companies like CanTrack offer asset protection systems that can trace stolen vehicles and plant. Uniquely, CanTrack remains the only tracking and theft recovery company with its own in-house investigation unit.

When it comes to plant make sure you have adequate physical security at the storage location, including CCTV. Whenever machinery is likely to be inactive for an extended period it should be immobilised, and make sure that keys are not stored on site. Many OEMs now supply construction plant with programmable keys that will start a specific machine. When an attempt is made to use a key that is not part of that system, the rightful owner is alerted.

Another potential deterrent is the CESAR Scheme, owned by the CEA (Construction Equipment Association) and operated by Datatag. The latter’s Nick Mayell explains its benefits: “CESAR includes tamper evident warning and registration plates, RFID transponders, a microdot identification system comprising of between 5001,000 micro dots, which are scattered around the machine and forensic DNA. Once fitted these technologies are almost impossible to remove successfully, and when the machine is registered on Datatag’s secure database, these unique details are accessible to the police 24/7, enabling them to identify any machine at the roadside night or day very quickly. The CESAR website also has a “Hot Button” to instantly report stolen machinery.

Micro CESAR extends the concept to handheld power tools, where smaller items can be protected with the same Datatag technology. Its developers claim that Micro CESAR marked equipment is more than twice as likely to be recovered as unmarked.

One item that is steadily moving up the wish list of the criminal fraternity – and is often not protected to the same degree as the van itself – is the catalytic converter. It is actually one of the most valuable individual components on a commercial vehicle and, because of their higher ground clearance and easier access, vans make for rich pickings. Given the cost of replacing them it is well worth considering investing in a separate alarm.

For further information on CESAR and Micro CESAR visit

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