BauWatch report: Construction theft on the rise in 2024

February 7, 2024



The “Unseen Threats: 2024 Construction Crime Index” report from BauWatch has revealed that 70% of construction workers witness theft on site every year, causing delays to at least one-third of projects.  

The situation has worsened in the past year, say workers, as BauWatch and the National Federation of Builders urge firms to put deterrents in place as soon as possible. 

Not only this, but the report states that one in three 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 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. 

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%). 

BauWatch insights  

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

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

It also identifies the types of perpetrators that might pose a threat, including opportunists, professional gangs and “insiders” (criminals posing as legitimate personnel) and outlines a list of best practice measures that can be immediately employed to minimise the risk of a robbery. 

“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,” said Rico Wojtulewicz, Head of Policy and Market Insight at the National Federation of Builders.  

“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, which supplies CCTV security to over 5000 active Construction sites across UK and Europe and the National Federation of Builders, are calling for firms to take extra preventative action against thieves, rather than taking a “wait and see” approach.  

No confidence in the security on site 

“Construction sites have always attracted thieves, but with the resale value of goods going through the roof, they’re now prime targets,” said Alexis Potter, Managing Director, BauWatch.  

“So, it’s worrying to see that some workers don’t feel confident about on-site security. 

“Repeated incidents, even small ones, have huge repercussions if left unchecked as we can see in this report.  

“The best way to minimise the impact of theft is to deter criminals from entering at all, so we are advocating for the adoption of preventative security measures to protect staff, safeguard investments and maintain project schedules.” 

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