One thing is for certain, the world will never be the same after the COVID-19 crisis, but as we enter our fifth week of lockdown a number of areas need to be looked at. Whilst, the construction industry as a whole has come in for some bashing over recent weeks due to comments in the media one of the areas that have faced constant highlight is the financial impact on the industry.
Within the first few weeks of lockdown a stunning increase of 50% of tools and plant equipment theft took place on construction sites that had been forced to close. Nick Mayell, Datatag’s CESAR Police training and liaison officer and security expert, said: “The coronavirus ‘lockdown’ has meant that it’s currently ‘open season’ for criminal gangs who target construction plant.
“The abrupt abandonment of work-sites has left machinery unsecured and vulnerable. Whereas a company would normally ‘wind-down’ for seasonal closures by ‘off-hiring’ kit and moving their own machines – sites have closed overnight – in the blink of an eye – and the thieves are having a field day.”
Mayell added: “The shifting of kit has also become much easier as trucks and vans are moving freely during the lockdown where car travel is restricted to ‘essential’.”
Whilst COVID-19 has certainly led to a huge rise in theft; this is something that has been a challenge to the construction industry for many years. Almost 4 years ago we spoke about the impact of theft on the construction industry as a whole with an estimated £800m tangible cost as a whole in knock-on effects. What the Crisis has identified is that even with all the knowledge, steps still aren’t being taken to cut crime.
The Hot Topic asks, can the construction industry stand the cost of COVID-19? If margins were tight before the crisis and an increase in theft adding even more pressure on the sector is this one final straw for the back of construction and will it break?