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How to Prevent Plant Hire Equipment Theft On Your Site

Construction sites, and more specifically plant machinery, are prime targets for opportunistic criminals. During the height of the COVID-19 lockdown, construction workers have witnessed a 50% surge in construction site crime rates, and even with working conditions now back to normal, unfortunately the problem isn’t going anywhere.


As a site manager, you probably already know that construction site security should be at the top of your priority list, but it can be tough to put this into practice when it comes to your plant machinery. To prevent plant machinery theft  from happening to you, there are several effective approaches you can take towards site security. In this blog, we’ll discuss the importance of sufficiently protecting your site against theft, and how to best go about this.

macsalvors crane on building site

The Facts

While it might not seem like plant equipment theft would be a big issue, according to a study by Allianz Cornhill, over £70 million worth of plant machinery, including excavators, compressors and even cranes, is stolen from construction sites each year. The study also estimates that inadequate security measures cost the construction industry over £800 million per year.


After surveying tradespeople, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) found that 92% of respondents had been affected by theft, with 21% of respondents reporting weekly site robberies. What’s worse, the Construction and Agricultural Equipment Security and Registration Scheme (CESAR) also discovered that as few as 5% of unregistered plant machinery is recovered after being stolen. Naturally, once a heavy piece of machinery has been pinched, the chances are that it’s gone for good.

How Does Construction Site Theft Happen?

Below are some of the most common reasons why construction equipment goes missing.

Plant Machinery Is Not Sufficiently Secured

It’s unrealistic to expect your team to shift heavy machinery to a safer, off-site location at the end of every shift, but it is worth remembering that anything left on-site overnight is more susceptible to robberies. Here are a few solutions:


●      You can lock or immobilise equipment that is not in use.

●      You can move particularly expensive equipment into storage containers, or place large concrete blocks or vehicles in front of the containers.

●      You could even use plant hire services so that machinery isn’t left on-site during seasonal closures or long holiday periods. When work resumes, the equipment can be re-hired.

Lack of Proper Safety Measures

You might need to up your current safety precautions to successfully scare away intruders. While you might think site safety is a no-brainer, thieves are increasingly finding modern solutions to combat traditional security methods. Thin chains, poor-quality locks and low fences simply don’t cut it anymore, and could spell disaster for your site if the wrong person manages to break in. Even sites that are heavily guarded are not immune, and even with a night time security presence there are still instances of theft.

The Consequences

When construction site security measures fail to prevent thieves, the fallout can have a ripple effect on every aspect of your business operations. You might find yourself experiencing:


●      Financial Loss: Because plant machinery is a significant investment for your firm, with the upfront cost of excavators alone often being tens of thousands of pounds, the loss of just one of these pieces of machinery can be devastating for contractors.

●      Project Delays: The loss of vital equipment or materials can massively slow down the timeline of your project as you are forced to find alternatives, which could potentially even lead to contractual penalties.

●      Damaged Reputation: Failure to secure new plant machinery after a theft could make clients and suppliers lose faith in your ability to manage a construction project.

Tips for Keeping Your Construction Site Secure

Now we’ve gone over the why of construction site security, it’s time to get into the how. Here are 5 ways to make sure your machinery is safe from opportunists.

1.   Install CCTV

This might seem obvious, but visible CCTV cameras are one of the most effective security measures to have on your site. Once your CCTV system is installed, it can be monitored by a single security guard, which can recoup the cost of the system and makes it a cost-effective solution.


Site managers who tend to work on short-term projects might be tempted to forgo CCTV cameras, but the consequences really aren’t worth the risk. Even temporary CCTV cameras can make even the shortest of projects that much more secure; they provide the same camera quality, can be monitored remotely and reused on future projects.

2.   Keep Your Site Well Lit

Construction site security is so much more than tall fences and padlocks, and even the smallest of details can be enough to deter thieves. Site lighting, for instance, creates the appearance of surveillance - even when no one is on the site. When continual lighting is combined with CCTV cameras, the chances of your equipment being stolen is significantly reduced.

3.   Use Immobilising Equipment

Electronic immobilising tools are adept at stopping thieves in their tracks. Even if they get past your first line of defence, they physically cannot steal expensive plant machinery which is fitted with an immobilising keypad, as the machine will not start until an authorised User Code or ID is input into the keypad.

4.   Smart Parking

Sometimes, the most foolproof security measures are completely free. While this tip requires some strategising, it’s pretty effective. You can massively reduce the risk of theft on your site by cleverly parking vehicles and machinery when they are not in use. If an expensive piece of plant machinery is blocked by a truck or heavy materials on either side, there’s no way for it to disappear overnight.

5.   Record Your Inventory

Keeping an accurate, up to date site inventory will allow you to spot instances of theft immediately and act promptly. Using plant hire can be helpful in this respect, allowing you to conveniently see a breakdown of what you’ve rented.

Hire a Crane with Macsalvors Ltd

For ultimate plant hire machinery security, choose Macsalvors (Plant Hire) Ltd. For crane lifting equipment, it's pivotal to have a backup emergency plan to cater for any unwanted circumstances. Not only are all of our cranes fully licensed and approved, we also work with our clients to make sure that the working environment for the crane is free from hazards and set up an emergency plan to try to prevent any unforeseen obstacles. We are one of the leading crane rental companies in Cornwall, so get in touch with us today for more information about our products and services.

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