How Do You Solve a Problem Like Lumber Yard Theft?

Posted by James Thompson on April 13, 2022

The headlines about lumber theft reveal just how big of a problem it is. And it's happening all over the U.S. and Canada.

"People are stealing lumber from contractors and lumber yards as prices soar" — Business Insider

"Dartmouth, N.S. lumberyard owner robbed three times in one year, says high costs may be a factor" — CTV News

"A man is caught stealing 32 pieces of wood in Shoreline. As lumber prices increase, theft may follow" — The Seattle Times

"Sheriff Seeks Assistance Solving Burglary/Theft at Gay Brothers Lumber Yard" — The Jackson County Sun

The list goes on. The headlines illuminate two trends:

  • Lumber yard theft is rising.
  • Lumber yard costs are soaring.

At their peak, the price of lumber is unlike anything we've seen since 1978 according to NBCDFW. "The 52-week futures of lumber this year have been as high as $1,600 a board foot and as low as $350 a board foot," Mark Johnson, CEO of JPAR Real Estate told NBCDFW. "They’re currently at about $750 a board foot."

In simple terms, lumber prices are more than double last year's prices. It's not surprising the costs are skyrocketing between the shortage of lumber supplies and the high levels of demand.

Why Is Lumber Yard Theft Happening?

Economics 101 comes to play here. When supply shrinks and demand climbs, then prices go up too. The more expensive the product, the more likely thieves will steal it and resell it. The cost of lumber is yet another side effect of the crisis.

According to Business Insider, the high lumber prices have led to the creation of a black market. Apparently, there's an underground lumber market that's spurring on lumber thefts at construction sites and lumber yards.

While the data on lumber theft has been hard to come by, the National Association of Home Builders tells Business Insider that it's heard many stories of lumber heists. The lumber distributor in Nova Scotia told CTV News he had been robbed three times in one year. He went on to explain the criminals got past his security system by taking the gates off the hinges. This is how he knew he had been robbed.

At a robbery in Fort Myers, Florida, $10,000 worth of lumber was stolen. Thieves got away with $5,000 worth of lumber in Denver reports Woodworking Network. This is a problem plaguing the construction and lumber yard industries.

Another Canadian business had $60,000 worth of lumber taken by thieves who loaded up and filled their trailer with lumber. The problem is so bad in the U.S. that organizations like the Tennessee Department of Agriculture are pleading with business owners to protect their property according to Woodworking Network story.

The theft can have a devastating effect on a business to the point that it can jeopardize or bankrupt the business. Not only do thieves steal a high-priced item but also, they tend to leave damage in their wake.

How Businesses Can Prevent Lumber Yard Theft

The most critical thing to do is protect every asset in your lumber yard or construction site. It's such a serious problem that the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America has issued an inflation alert stating that everything has caused the acute cost increases. Even weather conditions are having an impact on lumber production. Not to mention the supply chain is still reeling from the Suez Canal blockage.

Replacing stolen lumber will be very expensive. Construction companies depend on lumber yards to replenish low inventories and stolen lumber. If they can't get the lumber they need from your lumber yard, they will go elsewhere.

The simplest, fastest, and most effective solution that will help deliver a fast ROI is remote video surveillance. However, it does not work alone. It's still important to have multiple layers in your security.

A video surveillance system involves putting cameras in strategic locations around the property. Those cameras should show up in plain sight. This is one layer as the sight of cameras can scare off some intruders.

5 Ways Video Surveillance Secures Your Lumber Yard

For those crooks who are determined to continue moving forward and get the lumber, then the next layer is someone watching the cameras. These trained monitoring operators are not in your lumber yard. They're working from a safe place away from the yard and can act without fearing for their lives. Here are the five top ways high-quality remote video surveillance can help secure your lumber yard.

1. Helps protect your expensive assets

You can put security cameras outdoors, indoors, at all entrances and exits, and the parking lot. A video surveillance system can constantly monitor your lumber, equipment, and employees. You'll gain peace of mind knowing there are eyes on your business.

If anyone gets away before law enforcement arrives, the high-definition cameras will likely retain recordings that could contain information about the suspect and any vehicles. The police department has successfully used the video footage to identify and arrest suspects after they've left the scene of the crime.

2. Helps deter crime

The partnership between video analytics and the trained monitoring operator turns video surveillance into proactive security. Monitoring operators work in a building away from your property. High-definition cameras allow them to watch the cameras and see what's happening.

Monitoring hours of video is a tedious job. This is where video analytics fill in the gap. They're programmed with many scenarios and know which ones to ignore and which ones could be a problem. This helps them identify potential problems such as someone approaching the property after-hours. As soon as it recognizes a situation, it alerts the monitoring operator who can act.

What the operator does depends on the scenario and security system. If there's a two-way speaker, the monitoring operator can issue a warning to the intruder. Sometimes they leave and sometimes they don't. Many criminals have grown more brazen, especially those in organized crime gangs. They think of everything and plan for it.

If the trespasser doesn't leave, then the monitoring operator can call the police and stay on the call until they arrive at the lumber yard. While they are on their way, the monitoring operator can track the suspect's movements while informing the police of their movements. All of the suspect's actions are recorded and saved. You'll have the evidence you need to share with the police and your insurance provider.

3. Helps keep employees and customers safe

As the manager or owner of the lumber yard, you are responsible for ensuring everyone's safety when they are on your property. Trained monitoring operators don't just watch for crime. They could report any potential hazards they find.

They can also identify problems, patterns, and bottlenecks in how people and equipment move around the lumber yard. If they see something risky, they can report it to management. You may store lumber in an unsafe or easy to steal from the location. Video surveillance can help you determine the best places to store things.

4. Helps save money

The cost of stolen lumber far exceeds the cost of video surveillance. It's also possible that video surveillance on your lumber yard will result in lowered insurance premiums. That's because it helps reduce your risk for theft and property damage. Additionally, it increases the chances of deterring crime. This could prevent you from spending money on the cost of repairs and replacements.

With remote video surveillance, all you pay is for the hardware and the monthly surveillance fee. Clients have seen an ROI within four months.

5. Can monitor for natural disasters

Because trained monitoring operators work in monitoring centers in a safe location, they can observe current conditions in the worst of storms and notify you when there's a potential problem.

For example, Stealth's monitoring center took extra steps when Hurricane Harvey hit. All cameras continued working and provided our operators with the ability to provide real-time updates to customers about their businesses. In doing so, they were able to put recovery plans into effect faster.

How to Add Remote Video Surveillance in a Lumber Yard

In looking for the right proactive video surveillance technology, select vendors who work with lumber yards like yours. The security solution your lumber yard needs is different from the needs of a construction site, scrap metal yard, and office building.

Verify the security cameras are high-definition and can make out faces and other important information. Ask the security vendor for videos of their cameras in action. Check the quality of the video. Here's a clip of how police stopped lumber thieves and another clip of two people stealing lumber.

You can get the right-sized solution that meets your security requirements and budget. Stealth Monitoring's security consultants listen to your needs and propose a customized solution that delivers on your requirements.

The soaring lumber prices prompt owners and managers to enhance their lumber yard security. You want to protect your assets and employees. Video surveillance can do that as well as help save on costs and improve your operations. You could get a faster return on your investment when you choose Stealth. To learn more, read Live Video Monitoring: More Than Just Catching Criminals or contact us.

Posted in: Crime Prevention, Video Security Systems, Security Guards & Savings, Video Monitoring