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Job Site Security


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Michael's Forum Posts: 181
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By Michael in Cave Creek, AZ on 7/25/2006


I am curious what other O-B's are doing to guard and protect their job sites from theft and whether theft is a problem in other parts of the country where people are owner-building.  During the course of my most recent project we had three thefts, losing an air compressor, a skylight and virtually all of our power tools after the house was dried in and locked up. They got in by breaking a bathroom window.

We resorted to camping out at the job site to guard it after the appliances were delivered.


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By Scott in Wanatah, IN on 7/30/2006


This is one of the few times nosey neighbors come in handy, if you even have neighbors. 
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By Tom in Stroudsburg, PA on 7/30/2006


I'm building in my backyard, so I don't have that problem. Have seen news reports that some houses have been stripped of the wiring because the price of copper is so high. Article about a month ago reported that security at a large development was busted. They knew when appliances were being delivered and let people in to clean them out. It's a shame it's even an issue.
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By Bill in Irving, TX on 8/8/2006


Michael, when I was in high school, there was a group of unscrupulous guys I knew who made a living stealing construction materials. There are professional thieves out there waiting to steal a part of your dream. I knew this when I built my first home last year. My lot is in a somewhat rural area, and relatively isolated, so I worried about it constantly. Fortunately I did not have any substantial theft. I am by no means a security expert, but here are a few thoughts:

  1. Have your builder's risk insurance in place as a hedge against big ticket theft.
  2. Camping out, or giving the illusion of camping out is effective. I camped out on a few nights when I had large or costly deliveries. On other occasions, I made a show of camping out, then left after all subs were gone. I also parked a vehicle out front. You have to manage this ruse carefully, or it will be transparent. 
  3. Block entrance to any driveways or access points, preferably with a chain. If  a thief cannot get close, and actually has to work to carry items any distance, he will shy away.
  4. Post signs like "beware of dog" in highly visible areas.
  5. Illuminate the site.
  6. Schedule deliveries and contractors effectively to time the installations right away when the materials show up on site.
  7. Get some temporary locks for your doors in lieu of your finish hardware. This can be a mild deterrent. However, you don't want to make it too hard to get in, or a potential thief who really wants in might do more damage in a dogged determination to get in.

Good luck Michael.


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By Brian in Dome-ville, FL on 4/19/2007


I bought myself a few digital game cameras. They are fairly cheap (under $100), waterproof and they take a picture of whatever moves in front of the camera. If you put on up a tree, you will see who takes what if it happens. Get one and play with it. Most of them have a "security box" option, you can buy a metal lockable box to make sure the camera doesn't disappear.
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By Brian in Dome-ville, FL on 4/20/2007


Actually, I "cheated" on the security issue. The first thing we built was a shed (no windows and a good heavy dead-bolted door). The next thing we built was a BIG detached garage, 1,200 sf and all metal, no windows, big roll-up doors.  EVERYthing goes in the garage before we leave for the day. Once we dry in the house, I am going to plywood all openings temporarily, second floor windows may get an old piece of plexiglass to allow light in. The main entry will be a temporary door with a heavy lock, and I will try not to leave anything in the "house" that's valuable. Everything will be in the steel garage.
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By Brian in Roseville, CA on 4/20/2007


We are building in a rural subdivision with about 50 lots all of a couple of acres. It is wooded and hilly, so building sites tend to be obscured from plain view. Everyone who has built ahead of us has had theft problems -- some rather substantial. As more homes are built in the neighborhood, the problem seems to be getting a little better. The thieves aren't quite as bold with some occupied houses around. We also established a Neighborhood Watch program and posted signs as soon as we had some occupied homes in the area. That said, I have thought a lot about security concerns and have a few strategies to share.

First, we are building a barn/workshop with studio apartment to live in while we build the house later. So at least we will be on site for the actual housebuilding.

I have a flatbed trailer, 14K GVWR, that I will haul construction materials around on. Things like rebar and form lumber I will pull off the trailer as needed and all of that comes home with me every night. Tempting items like generators, compressors, etc. will not be left on the job site at all. We've had chains and cables cut to get such items.

Anything that remains on site will get a marking with some bright color of spray paint. A neighbor had a full unit of OSB stolen and it supposedly was recovered in part due to the paint marking on it making it somewhat identifiable. Some thieves at least may be reluctant to steal material with identifying markings.

I have installed substantial posts with cable across my driveway access. They will have to work a little harder to get their vehicle to where the material is.

This one depends on where you boot up on gun issues... but I have a concealed weapons permit to legally carry a loaded gun in my vehicle or on my person. We did have a case in my county about two years ago where some thieves attempted to run down a property owner with their truck. The owner happened to be armed and is probably alive today because he shot and killed the driver. Shooting someone, however legal and justified the circumstance, is a nightmare that I would never want to have. But it could be better than the alternative.

Armed or not, think a little ahead of time what you would do if you roll up on your job site to find some people that don't belong there helping themselves to your material. Myself, I would rather have them just take the material than to have a firearms incident. But that depends on how they react to you showing up. If you are building in a rural/remote area, you need to keep in mind that a different set of stay safe "rules" may apply.

Once I have power and internet up and running in an enclosed shell, I will install a combination of fake and real webcams and post some signs to bring attention to the fact of "video surveillance in use". There are some really good webcams out there with excellent remote monitoring capabilities.

I've also looked at some of the construction site security products like those from DEWALT. But it is an expensive system and requires good cell phone access (which is rather "iffy" at my job site).

Brian


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