UT System, University work to protect construction sites on campus

Natalie Sullivan

A UT student reportedly stole items from a construction site last week near the Cockrell School of Engineering. According to UTPD’s Campus Watch report, construction workers said the student ran through the site Friday and UTPD officers found a construction truck that had been disturbed. UTPD discovered the student blocks away with items believed to be from the truck.

Despite incidents like this one — which is still under investigation — the University routinely takes precautions to secure construction sites on campus.

The UT System Office of Facilities Planning and Construction oversees construction sites on campus. OFPC director Bob Rawski said most major construction projects are contracted by outside companies, which are responsible for enforcing safety and security requirements at their construction sites. 

“Our construction contractors by contract have care, custody and control of their construction sites,” Rawski said. “They are required to erect a fence around the entire perimeter of the site with locking gates and to monitor access into and out of the site.”

Despite incidents like the one at the site, Rawski said thefts are not common at construction sites on campus. 

“Our contractors have experienced some occasional thefts from their construction sites, but this has not been a pervasive problem,” Rawski said. 

According to Rawski, there are currently seven OFPC-managed major capital construction projects under construction at the University. Most of these projects are contracted by companies such as Hensel Phelps, which has worked on the San Jacinto Residence Hall, the Frank Erwin Center, and is currently involved in building the Dell Medical School. Hensel Phelps is also in charge of the construction site near the Chemical Petroleum Engineering Building, where the theft took place. 

Rawski said whether a project is contracted by an outside company depends on the project’s size and the construction techniques needed. 

“Major capital construction projects managed by OFPC are contracted through outside construction companies,” Rawski said. “Minor projects managed by campus groups, such as Project Management and Construction Services, may be done by outside contractors or by internal construction groups, depending on the size and nature of the work.”

UTPD spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon said UTPD regularly patrols campus construction sites to try and prevent thefts.

“In general, the construction sites are University property and are part of UTPD’s regularly scheduled patrols,” Weldon said. “If criminal activity is witnessed or reported, UTPD responds and investigates as appropriate.”

The incident last Friday is still under investigation.