Master Builders Victoria (MBV) is concerned about theft from building sites due to supply shortages which have increased dramatically in recent times – with significant reports from regional areas such as Ballarat, Bendigo, Gippsland, and Geelong.

Yesterday it was reported that thieves stole a large $14,000 fibreglass swimming pool from a construction site in Geelong, sparking a police investigation.

The thieves entered the Wandana Heights property and managed to haul away the 7m pool on the back of a white truck on 20 October 2021 between 10.30 pm and 11 pm.

MBV have received various reports of copper thefts from sites and white goods.

Examples include houses broken into central heating units, hot water services, ovens, cooktops, and split systems stolen.

However, thefts from building sites have become more common in recent months with the current timber shortages.

MBV members have previously reported seeing loads of timber delivered to sites and promptly removed by thieves.

MBV CEO Rebecca Casson said millions of dollars are lost to theft and vandalism on building and construction sites each year.

“Theft from building sites has always been an issue we know members have had to deal with, but alarmingly with supply chain shortages, we are seeing a dramatic increase in theft from sites across Victoria, including regional areas,” Ms Casson said.

“Small mum and dad builders and tradespeople are the lifeblood of the Victorian economy, and they suffer the most from these types of thefts.

“We are encouraging people to think and do the right thing before they consider doing the wrong thing.

“We encourage everyone to be vigilant with their security measures on-site and, wherever possible coordinate deliveries of materials to coincide with their use or installation.”


Tips to minimise the chances of suffering a theft:

  • Delivery schedule – wherever possible coordinate deliveries of materials to coincide with their use or installation. By promptly installing/utilising materials involved in your projects, you’ll minimise the number of materials available on-site for theft.  When deliveries occur at sites, drivers frequently leave gates open, which is particularly an issue when no other workers are on-site the day the delivery occurs.
  • Storing materials or goods - while minimising the amount kept on-site is important, overnight storage of materials is another key consideration. Storing items away from public view, ideally in a locked storage container, will help lower the chance of theft.
  • Marking materials – sometimes larger/bulk items like timber can’t always be minimised on-site or locked away. Look to mark timber and windows with your company name or job address to identify them and reduce the likelihood of theft more readily. Materials are quite often left in open view.
  • Know your neighbours - neighbours can play an important part by reporting suspicious behaviour. Neighbours can be the best form of defence, particularly if they are older as they notice people coming and going and generally take an active interest in their street. Please get to know them where possible and provide your contact details.
  • Security cameras and lighting - install on-site security cameras and use temporary lighting, which helps illuminate the building site. These are becoming less expensive and now can easily link to smartphones and other devices.
  • Site fencing and warning signs – while site fencing is only a moderate deterrent, having a secure job site and security warning signs will often discourage potential thieves and prevent a loss altogether. Having the site fencing with the QR code is important.
  • CCTV on building sites - some builders place signs in windows and on fences advising there is CCTV, which can help. If a particular development is being hit frequently, consideration should be given to having trail cameras or similar installed on-site/nearby to try and detect and deter thefts.
  • Once houses are at the stage where windows and doors are in - they should always be locked when trades have finished for the day. With the current materials shortages most builders are experiencing, some sites sit unattended for multiple days at a time. More frequent visits to sites by site supervisors to check that everything is in order and as secure as possible will assist in reducing the opportunities for offenders.
  • Any suspicious activity should be reported to local police - theft from housing construction sites is an issue across the state. If police are given information about any suspicious activity, it will assist them greatly in minimising the incidence of thefts occurring. Generally, it will be part of local police tasking, and units will attend developments multiple times during the day/night.