Electronic Controller

Photo courtesy of DeWalt

This electronic controller is the heart of DeWalt's new jobsite security system.

Photo courtesy of DeWalt

These coated steel cables in DeWalt's new wireless jobsite security system have built-in sensors that report any cutting or tampering of the cable, as well as any movement of vehicles, equipment or tool boxes secured with the cables.

Published August 2005

Jobsite security
gets new defenses

By John Wolcott
SCBJ Editor

In spite of locks, flood-lights and security patrols, thieves are costing America’s building industry billions of dollars each year in losses from stolen equipment, tools and materials from construction sites.

Billions of dollars is a conservative estimate, according to researchers. And that doesn’t include the very real, but difficult-to-estimate, cost for the time lost if workers don’t have the necessary tools and equipment at hand when they arrive for work. Delayed construction projects also add to contractors’ losses.

Now, an innovative new high-tech electronic system developed by DeWalt, a leading power tool manufacturer for the construction industry, offers a new way to improve job site security.

DeWalt studied the problem extensively before designing its system. The company completed a national survey, interviewing 200 commercial and residential contractors and conducted an independent poll of 1,500 construction industry professionals about jobsite security issues.

The survey found that tool theft, materials theft and truck-and-van-protection were the top three types of jobsite losses with tool theft believed to have the greatest economic impact. In residential construction alone, the National Association of Home Builders estimates there are losses of $1-to-$2 billion annually in the theft of materials and appliances.

The National Equipment Register estimates annual thefts of heavy equipment, such as bulldozers and backhoes, at $300 million to $1 billion — only 10 percent of which is ever recovered. And the National Insurance Crime Bureau and General Contractors of America both reported in 2004 that more than $1 billion is lost annually in the theft of construction equipment and tools.

Snohomish County hasn’t escaped the impact of jobsite theft. Last April, when Washington State Patrol officers and Sultan police raided a rural residence in east Snohomish County, they found 700 suspected stolen items, mostly tools and construction equipment.

One of those who came to survey the cache of items was Rod Kirkwood of Redmond, a mechanical contractor with 75 trucks in his company. But he found none of the $20,000 worth of tools taken from his vehicles in repeated break-ins. With a deductible of $25,000, he didn’t even bother to file an insurance report.

DeWalt’s new wireless SiteLock system solves many of the theft problems found in its survey by using a portable base unit and five wireless sensors that can be installed, easily moved or even customized by local workers for different jobsites.

The base unit — equipped with a siren, strobe, motion sensor and vibration sensor — is usually located in a jobsite trailer, with remote sensors programmed on the site to detect movements, tampering or attempted thefts in a variety of locations.

One of the system’s biggest benefits, according to the company, is that it can secure worksites up to 2,000 feet from the base unit.

Motion and vibration sensors attach magnetically to locked tool boxes or construction equipment. DeWalt’s Cellemetry technology depends on cellular telephone service to notify a monitoring center, company employers or police if thefts or break-ins are detected.

Cable locks with wireless sensors can secure equipment, materials and other possible theft targets. The system, easily moved from site to site, is equipped with up to 48 individual sensors for monitoring the site and specific assets.

DeWalt’s suggested price for the equipment, with one keychain remote control, is approximately $1,000. Wireless sensors for the system sell for $99 to $199 per unit. The monthly monitoring service fee is approximately $40.

SiteLock systems are carried in Snohomish County by White Cap Industries’ Marysville store. For more information, visit DeWalt’s Web site at


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