With any luck, you’ve never had to deal with someone vandalizing a job site you’ve worked on in an attempt to sell the wire as scrap. The thieves who do this typically slip (or break) in, cut off any available wire and make a break for it with bits and pieces of wire still hanging in place. In some cases, they actually damage the rest of the structure trying to get as much wire as they can grab. It can be a real blow, both because it comes as a shock and because there’s now a lot of work that has to be redone.
If you ever find yourself in this situation, do you know how you’d handle it? After the initial shock wears off, the job must go on. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few suggestions of how to move forward after your hard work has been undone.
Assess the Damage
The first thing to do after discovering job-site vandalism is to assess exactly how much damage was done. Take pictures of everything that seems to be tampered with, revisiting every area of the site where you or your crew have worked. If you’ve taken periodic pictures of your work as you completed different tasks, compare them to the new photos. You need to create as detailed of a report of missing or damaged materials as you can, as quickly as possible, so you’ll know exactly what you’ve lost.
Evaluate Your Options
In some situations, you may be able to salvage most of your work and just redo a small portion of the job. In other cases, everything needs to be stripped out and you’ll have to start the work over from scratch. Take the time to examine how much material was taken, whether the material was exposed or if it was pulled out of walls, whether cuts seemed to be made in a hurry and other details of the theft. If the affected area was exposed and limited to one space, then it should be possible to save most of the work you’ve put in. If the thief pulled wires out of walls, cut into them roughly or cut out wire in a number of places then starting over from scratch is the only way to guarantee a safe installation.
Salvaging the Site
If you determine that you can salvage some of your work, you still need to inspect the damaged areas to find a good starting point to connect to. Cut back from the end of the wire the thief cut by at least several inches (or more if you can’t confirm that the wire is undamaged.) Any existing components that are still in place within your work area need to be inspected thoroughly for damage, with anything that’s the least bit questionable being removed. You need to be very thorough since any damage that you miss could become a hazard in the future.
Starting from Scratch
Though it takes more work, pulling everything and starting over is the best option if you aren’t 100 percent sure that the remaining wiring and equipment is undamaged. Set aside any wiring or equipment you remove for more thorough inspection later; you may be able to reuse some of it elsewhere, or you can scrap it yourself if necessary. You’ll need to run all the wiring again and reinstall any components, though at least you know that you’re not creating a fire hazard due to a damaged wire that the thieves left behind.
Once the theft is discovered and you’ve started evaluating your options, you may find yourself with a bit of downtime. The police may need to investigate and insurance claims will have to be filed for the damage. You’ll need to talk with the homeowner or business owner and the general contractor to find out how they want to proceed; you’ll also need to make sure that you and your crew get paid for the extra time you’re dedicating to the job. It may also be worthwhile to require that the site be properly secured before you start work again; you don’t want to go through all of this again, after all.
Once things start moving again, be sure to take progress pictures if you’re not already in the habit of doing so. Of course, that could be beneficial even if you don’t have to deal with job site vandalism; having pictures of the work you’ve done as it’s completed can help with a number of work-related issues.
Have you ever experienced job-site vandalism? How did you respond?