Construction companies have been warned to be on their guard after an increase in the number of thefts of site equipment.

Dave Williams, said there had been a growing trend since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in thefts from building sites.

And now, companies and insurers are concerned that the rise in the cost of building materials as the economic recovery continues, could lead to an even greater spike in opportunist thefts.

“As Covid hit, many construction projects had to be paused, and sites were abandoned as redevelopment was forced to stop – this was the perfect chance for thieves to make their move.

“Now, with the momentous world events happening right across Europe, the cost of these items is spiralling, so their worth to thieves is even greater. It’s vital that construction companies step up their security procedures, and that they ensure they have appropriate insurance cover in place.”

Dave said there were several methods of theft – including thieves taking advantage of an opportunity that was suddenly on offer, such as a vehicle left unattended with tools on show, but a lot of construction theft was planned in advance.

Some thieves have elaborate procedures in place where arrangements are made for stolen items to be quickly removed from the country and sold abroad either as it was, or split up into parts.

“Another approach is to hide the machinery until the attention and interest in the theft dies down and then move it overseas. But whatever method the thieves choose, figures show that as little as five per cent of unregistered plant equipment is ever recovered.”

Dave said in order for any insurance claim to be processed, insurers would need to be assured that construction site owners had taken careful and appropriate steps to try to keep their equipment secure.

“Keep your equipment and vehicles in a padlocked area, remove any ignition keys and install  immobilising systems where possible. You should also employ security guards to monitor the site when it’s left unattended – particularly overnight – and ensure the site is properly lit.

“Theft of vital machinery could cause real issues for construction projects in terms of delays and the cost of replacing equipment, so taking extra care is an important and sensible approach.”