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Tool thefts causing major infrastructure delays

Posted: Friday, February 9th, 2024

The “Unseen Threats: 2024 Construction Crime Index”, from site-security provider, BauWatch, examines insights from construction workers, to understand their experience of theft at work.

It identified a ‘perfect storm’ of factors, including goods inflation, increasingly sophisticated criminal tactics, and a general underestimation of the risks, which are making sites vulnerable to crime, in turn causing major delays to projects, as well as denting staff morale.

Rico Wojtulewicz, head of policy and market insight at the National Federation of Builders said: “We’ve observed that, since the Government removed the construction industry’s access to red diesel, fuel theft has risen, as indicated by responses in BauWatch’s crime index.

“CCTV has therefore become an even more important tool to help tackle site crime, not only because it acts as a deterrent and helps collect video evidence but as it also offers an insight into how and where a site might be better protected.”

With criminals seemingly becoming more brazen, BauWatch is calling for firms to take extra preventative action against thieves, rather than taking a “wait and see” approach.

Key findings:

  • Spike in cases: Two-thirds of respondents say the rate of theft increased in 2023, as the resale value of goods reaches record levels.
  • Criminals are getting smarter: 1 in 3 believe crime, including theft, physical violence, harassment, and vandalism, is becoming more sophisticated. It comes as reports of criminals using drones to target sites become more frequent.
  • A hidden productivity drain: A third of projects have been delayed due to crime, with copper and cable topping the tables as the most frequently targeted goods – delaying the development of critical infrastructure, such as railways.
  • Workers bear the brunt of poor security: One in four workers have been left out of pocket, after having to replace stolen tools, and say being robbed is their “biggest fear”. However, security is seen as a “low priority” on sites they work on (30%).

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