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Since 2018, the Canadian construction industry has reported a staggering jump in the incidence of job site thefts, with losses amounting to billions of dollars per year. Nothing on your job site – from machinery and tools to cultured stone and air conditioners- is safe from theft, particularly if you haven’t taken the necessary measures to protect your company resources. The vast majority of these thefts occur during weekends when many construction sites are left unattended, and loosely surveilled.
Ina CTV News report released this month, Saskatoon police Det. Sgt. Tosha Ternes confirmed that construction site theft has become a huge concern for his force, as well as authorities across the country, with perpetrators taking tools, lumber, and appliances worth thousands of dollars in a single haul. This is not exclusive to large-scale development sites; contractors nationwide are reporting theft of tools and property from smaller-scale projects such as home remodeling sites or landscaping projects.
Below, we’re shedding some light upon this national concern, sharing some of the reasons behind the uptick in construction and trade thefts, and how to prevent and respond to these incidences on your site.
What’s Fueling these Job Site Thefts?
The skyrocketing cost of lumber (recently hitting an all-time high) and copper is serving as ammunition for these job site thefts. Lumber prices have even inched their way into social media spotlight, with many even referring to wood as the new gold.
COVID-19 may also be to blame for the notable increase in contraction and trade thefts, according to Toronto Private Investigators. In the wake of the public health crisis, many industries have endured waves of economic volatility, and financial security remains a concern for many employees amid rampant layoffs or reductions in hours. Accordingly, this can serve as motivation for break-ins and theft of company resources by their own employees.
“In the past year, we have carried out investigations for employers who were dealing with property and cash theft by their own employees. Because of reduced work hours and soaring unemployment levels, we’ve seen a huge spike in job site thefts carried out of sheer desperation”.
Adrianne F. Director, Star Quality Private Investigations Toronto
Top Tips to Curtail Theft at Your Job Site
Security experts, insurance claim adjusters, and construction professionals will recommend these five strategies to prevent thefts at your job sites.
- Etch your tools & equipment with a driver’s license number: This would serve as a pivotal piece of information for insurance claim adjusters, private investigators, and police after a theft has taken place. A driver’s license number is unique and can be easily tracked back to you or your site if recovered. As a further measure, maintain a database of all equipment, taking pictures and making note of serial numbers.
- Plan your deliveries carefully: Referred to “just-in-time” delivery, this is a tactic that can help limit the quantity of un-touched raw materials on your site (which are vulnerable to theft). Be precise with the sequence of material deliveries (windows must be delivered after the walls are up), quantity (ideally, materials that need to be installed in a day), and time (exclude weekends).
- Lock up your materials: Until they are ready to be installed, never leave valuable materials out in the open. If they are left sitting around in pallets and boxes, you might as well hand them over to the thieves. Investing in a secure and lockable storage unit or shed will pay off in the long run.
- Request neighbors to keep a watch: Should your neighbors witness a suspect lurking around on your job site while everyone else is gone, request that they report it to you immediately. Once the job is complete, you can offer them a small token of appreciation for being your eyes and ears when you weren’t around.
- Use adequate lighting: Darkness provides thieves an opportunity to steal and leave unseen. Use motion detectors and floodlights to build your first line of defense.
How a Private Investigation Agency Can Help
Whether you suspect that your company is a victim of theft, or if you’re looking for effective methods to safeguard your site against internal or external theft, a Private Investigator can be a great line of defense. Whether performing undercover operations or collecting photography & video evidence of any wrongdoing, the expert team at Star Quality Private Investigations Toronto has a proven track record of conducting successful corporate investigations within the construction and trade industries.
Our experienced Investigators can interview witnesses & record statements, conduct background checks on staff, perform surveillance, or serve as an “undercover boss” to expose potential wrongdoings and build a solid case against the offender.
Prevent further loss on your job site and recover your damages with the help of Star Quality Private Investigations. With a commitment to highly customized, efficient, and cost-effective investigations, we will ensure that you find the clarity that you need, without hurting your bottom line. Reach out to our team today!