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USGNN Original StoryHow To Keep Jobsites Protected From Metal Theft

The contract glazing community is faced with many challenges, such as timely payments, labor shortages and price increases. Aside from these concerns, the scrap metal business is booming, and with that a number of construction sites have fallen victim to aluminum theft. On August 15 the London Metals Exchange reported the cost of aluminum to be more than $2700/ton. With these high prices, some contract glaziers have been had to find ways to ward off thieves from stealing aluminum curtainwall and other aluminum products available on jobsites.

Roger Grant Jr., president of Atascadero Glass in Atascadero, Calif., says he has seen metal theft as an issue for his company, as well as others.

"Our only loss has been in the last month, where some brake metal was taken from a jobsite," he says. "When I worked in Sacramento as a glazier, we did have a significant problem with this. I have a brother-in-law who runs a very large electrical contracting business in Sacramento, and they have experienced everything from minor theft to the use of bull-dozers to drag off Seatrain/Connex containers."

According to John Shum, vice president of operations at Sierra Glass & Mirror in Las Vegas, aluminum theft is definitely a problem for some jobsites, but for the most part his company has not had too many troubles with it.

"Here in Las Vegas most of our jobsites are casinos and the owners provide very good security, so we don't see much theft on those," says Shum. "But when we do jobs on other site, we can't leave any valuables on the site; aluminum disappears."

Aluminum theft, though, is not a new problem for contract glaziers. However, some jobsites are more susceptible than others. According to Catherine Best with Benson Industries in Portland, Ore., stick-built projects compared more likely to fall victim than a unitized project.

"With stick-built there are a lot of loose parts and pieces on the site, but with unitized most everything is already assembled in the shop so there aren't as many pieces lying around," she says, explaining that since her company does primarily unitized work they have not had to face such problems.

But contract glaziers still follow measures in order to protect their jobsites and their materials.

Andrew Gum, president of Thomas Glass Co. in Columbus, Ohio, says there are two steps his company takes to combat theft.

"We deliver our frames daily and install them that day and we utilize storage trailers and cans on site that are lockable," says Gum, who adds, "We mandate that all of our aluminum frames and panels are not to be left loose under any circumstance."

"The way we combat theft, is to not leave frames on the job unglazed," agrees Grant. "If we deliver metal, we install the frames and glaze them as soon as possible. This also frees up the site for the general contractor and minimizes damage to material. It does result in an increased logistical burden, but we think the gains are worth the cost."

"If the site has no security, we do not store anything on site that's not unitized or in a frame," says Shum, who adds that the price of aluminum is pretty high right now and there are people out there who will steal most anything to make a buck.

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