An Exploratory Look at Thefts from Construction Sites

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Theft of construction equipment, materials, and tools from construction sites results in approximately one billion dollars in direct annual losses to the U.S. construction industry per year. A better understanding of theft characteristics is vital to reducing this figure. This study analyzes over 15,000 incidents from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) to understand characteristics such as theft prevalence, average monetary losses, and recovery rates. The study finds that contractors lost an average of about $6,000 per incident. Trucks are the most expensive theft targets, with an average loss of about $42,000 per incident, and also the most likely item to be recovered (55% of the time). However, recovery rate across all targets was less than 7%. The results of this study provide the most accurate and extensive statistics to date on construction theft characteristics. The study also identifies best practices to reduce thefts such as the use of survellience systems. Further, the use of advanced marking and tracking systems to safeguard expensive equipment and vehicles and aid their recoveries are discussed. The findings are expected to aid contractors and law enforcement agencies in formulating methods for reducing thefts of construction items and improving the likelihood of their recoveries.


Denver, CO

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