MODEL HOMES ARE ESSENTIAL MARKETING tools for many builders. But these homes can also be among the more vulnerable elements on jobsites, which are often susceptible to illegal entry and theft.

“You start with model homes [in an undeveloped area], and people see that as a big red target,” James Boulton, a vice president with Classic Homes, recently told The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colo. There, through mid-March of this year, police have investigated 426 construction-site thefts and burglaries in the previous 27 months. Boulton estimates that Classic loses $50,000 to $100,000 annually to jobsite thieves.

Over the years, Hovnanian Enterprises has had its share of model-home break-ins and vandalism, says Michael Kelly, vice president of purchasing and production, and the builder has learned a few things about deterrence, such as configuring a community when it starts so that “you can't get to the models without going through the sales office,” which minimizes the number of people wandering around the site unattended, at least during working hours. All of Hovnanian's models are armed with security systems linked to the local police and the security company that installed them.

Newport Beach, Calif.–based Fieldstone Communities places models in each of its subdivisions and equips them with “zone systems security” that, according to director of construction Rick Peters, indicates when a door is ajar or a room has been entered. Each sales office can monitor its models electronically, and the alarm system is linked to the security company, says Peters.

Neither Peters nor Kelly is keen on using security guards or surveillance cameras to deter thieves or burglars, mostly because of their limited capacity to cover homes located within wide-open areas with many entrances.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Colorado Springs, CO.