Stealing from a construction site has become big business. Specialty insurer Great American Insurance Group notes that “losses due to theft and vandalism are in the billions of dollars.”

Some people will go to any length to steal equipment and materials. Fortunately, there are ways to add layers of physical security to protect against construction site theft, including the use of portable storage containers from PODS.

Cost of Construction Site Theft

According to the most recent Equipment Theft Report from the National Equipment Register and National Insurance Crime Bureau, heavy equipment theft costs $400 million annually and sees only a 25 percent recovery rate. Tractors, loaders, utility vehicles, and the like are reported to the police.

“Crime prevention on construction sites has become a major concern of all responsible contractors”


Losses create additional expenses and inefficiencies, beyond equipment cost. For example, there’s time spent filing police reports, or an insurance claim can result in higher premiums.

construction site security

Losing tools and materials can derail schedules and budgets, as contractors scramble to replace what was lost. A contractor who misses a deadline as a result of stolen tools may have to pay penalties for lateness under their contract, and when most construction equipment is left out in the open, it can be the unfortunate consequence.

Theft Helps Shady Competitors

Some thefts are one-off crimes of opportunity, others are part of coordinated and organized actions. It may be an individual, like the Washington state man who had $10,000 in missing materials. Police found bathtubs, sinks, fixtures, nails, lumber, wallboard, and more. He reportedly told friends he planned to build a house with the goods. One of the targeted contractors had lost $100,000 a year in theft.

When contractors, usually disreputable ones, buy stolen materials for a fraction of the above-board price, shady operators can offer lower project bids than legitimate businesses that purchase materials and tools at full price. The frequently local nature of construction site theft can mean that the stolen materials, tools, and equipment may have come from legitimate contractors who find themselves underbid.


Construction sites often do without even the most basic security measures, such as security fences with lockable gates and nighttime lighting. Materials and tools are not always in one location, so crews may not perform regular inventories that could uncover a construction site theft sooner rather than later, and increase the chances of recovery.

Even standard security steps may not be enough, particularly for goods light enough to for thieves to easily carry. A trailer office generally doesn’t have enough room to store items.

PODS storage container

To help keep equipment out of site and organized on-site, consider using a portable storage container from PODS.

The height is enough to stand standard plywood or wallboard on edge. The two larger sizes will handle typical lumber and pipe lengths. Rolling doors give easy access without the need for additional ground clearance.

With a construction storage container on-site, a contractor has flexibility with when they can accept the delivery of materials, rather than relying on just-in-time delivery. This can save time and money, as crews don’t have to wait if a vendor doesn’t bring materials exactly when expected.

During weekends, vacations or work stoppages due to inclement weather, PODS can fetch the unit and store it in a secure off-site facility, then return it when the job is about to resume. Curious to see how PODS has created secure storage solutions to protect against jobsite theft? Learn more about the solutions we offer for construction.

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