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Dealing With Losses and Theft of Construction Equipment

pennies and pounds

Damages, losses, and theft of plant, tools, and construction equipment from the job site are very rarely factored into anyone’s budgets or timelines. So it is of little surprise that any costs associated with the loss of equipment won’t be passed on to your client, instead, it hits your bottom line.

But you might ask “why should we be worried about losing a piece of construction equipment when the odds are we won’t get hit?”

Well here comes some data right out of the book of alarming statistics. According to a leading insurance company, plant and equipment theft is on the increase. Current estimates state that it costs the UK construction industry over £800 million a year. That figure is just on the reported crimes and is predicted to keep on rising.

So who’s paying for that in the long run… well, you are. You pay through increased or additional hire costs and insurance premiums. Although the cost of replacing the stolen property is often insured you will likely still have to cough up some payment depending on your hire terms and conditions. You will also incur downtime and your site teams, sub-contractors and potentially other hired equipment will sit idle. Add that all up and your planned healthy profit margins could vanish.

Did you know just 9% of construction equipment is ever recovered?

I’ve processed hundreds of plant loss claims over my career some are small in value but high in volume, others are just astounding. There is probably a GIF with my face on it somewhere with my eyes popping, jaw dropped, how ‘did they do that’ look. I can recall a large excavator being stolen from a job site, in the early hours of a Saturday morning, just a stone’s throw away from a busy pub and club area. The thieves rolled up with a low loader, wore high visibility jackets and hard hats and had clipboards. They looked legitimate, so nobody questioned what they were doing. The machine was loaded and was never seen again despite it having a tracker and the site having CCTV. The settlement ran into tens of thousands of pounds.

I’ve also seen site containers ripped open at the back like a bean can lid and emptied out. This shows the length and breadth that some criminals will go to in order to get what they want. There are also a lot of petty thefts where some sites get hit time and time again. It’s a faceless crime, easy pickings in a lot of cases, where nobody gets hurt and it isn’t personal, so there is no wonder it is on the increase.

What can you do about construction equipment theft?

Well, there are loads of initiatives out there to manage the physical being of an asset. Tags, GPS tracking, surveillance etc. This is all great stuff and widely incentivised by the insurance companies but, like I mentioned if they’re organised they’re going to take it so let’s look at it from a new preventative angle.

Improve Visibility and Control

If you had an online portal where you could track and manage all of your items on a particular job site from the very start of the hire process to the very end of it. You could carry out quick audits on site, daily or weekly and spot when something is missing. If this information was available on a mobile phone, consolidated in one place and everyone on site knew it was easily available it would become part of your standard processes. This could add accountability and encourage people to start taking more care of the equipment they’re using. Maybe it gets locked away properly at night or off hired because it hasn’t been used for a while because there is accountability now in place.

At the moment a lot of it is out of sight, out of mind, and not my responsibility, Also, let’s face it some of your tools are going to end up in the gangers shed for that weekend project, with the intention that they’ll bring it back of course.

As my dear old Grandma always says, Jimmy, look after the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves. I say, look after your assets and the pounds will take care of themselves and you become the company that bucks a £800 million trend by setting the example.

Get in touch today to learn more about how managing equipment out at the job site with the right software can reduce your thefts and downtime costs.

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