In the Wake of the Aurubis Copper Theft, How Can Construction Firms Protect Themselves Against Thieves?

The Aurubis copper theft, in which $198m worth of metal was stolen, is a reminder to us all of the importance of keeping construction sites protected. As metal inflation rises, criminals know they can sell things like copper for much more money, making them prime targets for crime. Not only that, but nights are getting darker, protecting criminals from being seen. Construction projects are naturally exposed and vulnerable. So, how can you keep your site protected? Alexis Potter, MD at site security specialist BauWatch, investigates.


Alexis Potter

is the MD at site security specialist BauWatch, which supplies CCTV protection to major construction projects.

Use deterrents

Don’t underestimate your enemy. The occasional opportunist might try their luck by grabbing a copper coil or case of fuel for their own use, but most theft is organised crime. Inside jobs are also frequent, where criminals target equipment while appearing as workers. If the Aurubis copper theft taught us anything, it’s not to underestimate a criminal mastermind – protect your site from the start by using visual deterrents like CCTV towers, floodlights or fences. Even when you’re not on site, you want to give the impression that you are.

Assess risks regularly

Assess the threat level regularly and adjust precautions accordingly. Housing developments tend to be targeted right before completion when expensive, easily re-sellable finishing touches, such as boilers and cookers, are being installed. When valuable assets are present, or there are numerous workers and subcontractors on the site, the threat level is higher. Your security protocols must account for that.

Think of security as an insurance policy

You wouldn’t go on holiday without insurance. Why wait until the worst happens before implementing security measures? I see this happen all the time, and I know why it happens. Construction projects are immensely expensive, so there’s a reluctance to spend more cash than seems necessary at the start. But the financial fallout from just one strategically-planned theft can be crippling. So, security must be integrated throughout. It’s an insurance policy, not a plaster – one that will cost less in the long run.

Move fast

Stealing materials and equipment for construction sites is not only costly and frustrating, but it can be damaging to taxpayers and local communities. After all, we all need schools, hospitals and critical infrastructure. Delays serve no one. We’re in the grip of a theft epidemic, so the time to act is now.

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