The old adage, “They’ll steal anything that is not nailed down” is truer today than ever before, especially on construction jobsites.
Estimates are in the billions of dollars lost each year in materials and equipment stolen from jobsites across America. Don’t be fooled — it is not the neighborhood kids stealing materials to build a clubhouse. Rather, it is people who are desperate for money that see an unprotected jobsite as their personal ATM.
Most people cannot relate to the cost of construction material like they do smartphones and electronics. However, consider that one stack of CDX pine plywood on a jobsite is worth about $1,200 and you will soon understand why jobsite theft has become epidemic.
Also consider how much the Great Recession and building bust has affected the construction industry. Many small builders and subcontractors are essentially walking bankruptcies. Many of them cannot pay their bills without a draw from a job, and an unprotected jobsite is their source of funding for a new job.
Then there is the common neighborhood thief. This is the guy who lives two houses down from the new home or remodel project, who believes he can take any of the material on the jobsite, because no one will ever miss $200 in 2x4s. Many neighborhood sheds have been built from the materials taken from surrounding jobsites.
The other thief is the scrapper. The scrapper thief will go to your jobsite to steal items that can be easily sold at the scrap yard, such as electrical wire, metal conduit and air conditioning components. This type of theft is the most devastating because the scrapper thief will destroy a $5,000 central air system to sell $150 in scrap metal.
If you are building a new home or doing an extensive remodel or addition, you must protect your jobsite fervently. Here are some security tips that can save thousands of dollars in jobsite theft:
• Post “no trespassing” signs on your jobsite and be prepared to enforce it.
• Have only authorized workers on your jobsite. Showing your project off to neighbors and passersby invites thieves.
• Even if you have to pay a little extra in delivery charges, don’t have unprotected material lying around your jobsite — especially very expensive doors and windows. Only have on your site what will be installed that day.
• Secure your jobsite as quickly as you can by installing doors and windows so the project can be locked up. Choose wisely who you give a key to.
• Know what is on your jobsite and count it. Most project owners never know they have been ripped off because they have no idea what is on their site.
• If you have power, put up security lights.
• Conduct a background check on the people you hire by calling references. Many times homeowners unknowingly invite thieves to their jobsite.
• Don’t leave tools on the job, not even a broom. Doing so is like hanging raw meat in front of a hungry dog.
• Post contact information on your jobsite in case of problems, and ask local law enforcement to patrol your site.
Jobsite thefts and rip-offs occur frequently because of one root cause: a project owner that is too trusting. Don’t become a victim of jobsite theft — protect your jobsite.
Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Radio Show heard every Monday at noon on My790AM WLBE in Leesburg.