Following a reported 50 per cent surge in construction crime rates since the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, the industry is being urged to tighten security measures to defend sites from opportunistic criminals.
The Construction Equipment Association (CEA) announced the significant increase in raids on vehicles and sites and theft of plant equipment and tools, which is in stark contrast to overall crime rates, which dropped by up to 40 per cent in March.
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, construction site theft was an ongoing problem that blighted the industry, costing an estimated £800million per year. In a survey carried out by the Chartered Institute of Building, 92% of respondents confirmed they had been affected by theft, with 21% reporting weekly site robberies. Since the pandemic and the initial uncertainty around government guidelines and whether construction should remain open, a spate of sites have entered shutdown, often leaving valuable assets in place.
Simon Oakley, Operations Director at Biosite Security, comments: “Establishing effective site security is critical at all times but with the recent increase in incidents of construction-related crime, it is clear that opportunistic criminals are targeting sites in shutdown.
“The construction industry has needed to respond rapidly to advice led by government and industry bodies to ensure sites are safe for operatives, which has meant in many cases sites have been scaled back or entered shutdown much quicker than they would normally be, leaving valuable plant equipment that is a temptation to thieves.
“It is essential that these assets are removed when possible or protected with adequate security measures, such as manned guarding, mobile patrol units or CCTV, to establish control over the situation and to ensure essential police resources are not being diverted during the COVID-19 relief effort.”