Construction Jobsite Thefts Increasing During Pandemic

Construction job sites full of valuable equipment and tools have been shut down and abandoned in the wake of the coronavirus, providing ample opportunities for thieves.

Mickis-Fotowelt/Getty Images

As the United States continues adapting to new ways of life during the coronavirus pandemic, many construction projects have been delayed or canceled. Project owners or government mandates shut down thousands of construction job sites across the country, leaving the sites vulnerable and enticing to potential criminals.

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“The crooks know that it’s open season,” home builder Kurt Wilson told Lens. “Construction is shut down, so it doesn’t take much for someone to connect the dots.”

In Oregon, where Wilson works and operates his business, the governor has declared residential construction a non-essential service. Workers had to abandon worksites and their equipment, locking their tools away as securely as they could while hoping they will still be there when work eventually resumes.

Unfortunately, empty and unmonitored job sites are just what a savvy thief is looking for when selecting a target. States like Oregon with blanket bans against residential construction have been hit particularly hard by strings of construction related crime in the last few weeks.

But the construction crime spree has not been limited to these states. In Maryland, $4,500 worth of tools were stolen from a construction site. A $15,000 GPS was taken from a construction company in Lincoln, Nebraska. Thieves in rural Kansas did more than $400 worth of damage to a trailer before getting inside and stealing approximately $9,925 worth of equipment.

All of these crimes occurred on unattended job sites, all reported in just the last week.

Stopping theft may require construction crews and companies to start thinking outside the box. CBH Homes in Idaho recently announced they are providing every home they build with a smart home connected Ring doorbell. Not only will the doorbell provide security for years to come, it also provides immediate security as the home is being worked on.

CBH reported submitting three police reports of theft on their job sites in the last week, all with surveillance video and images from their customer’s Ring doorbells.

While this specific security measure may not be a one-size-fits-all solution, it does provide an example of how technology and safety measures can be used — if not to prevent crimes, then to hold criminals accountable.