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Tool theft: The growing threat to UK tradesmen

As a tradesman, your tools are your livelihood. But with tool theft on the rise across the UK, protecting your valuable equipment has never been more important. In this article, we’ll explore the alarming statistics behind this growing problem, the reasons for the surge in thefts, and most importantly, what you can do to protect  your tools and your business.

The sobering statistics

The numbers paint a troubling picture. Over 40,000 cases of tool theft are reported to UK police forces annually, with London tradespeople being particularly at risk. In fact, a staggering 47% of tradesmen in the capital have experienced tool theft in the past year alone.

But it’s not just London that’s affected. Across the UK, there were 34,712 vans stolen between January 2021 and October 2022 – a shocking 62% increase compared to 2019 and 2020 combined. To make matters worse, powered hand tools are ten times more likely to be stolen than their non-powered counterparts, putting your most valuable equipment at the greatest risk.

Behind the Surge

So, what’s driving this alarming increase in tool theft? A combination of factors, including the high value of top-end tools on the black market, the cost of living crisis, and the relative ease of breaking into vans overnight. 

Unfortunately, with only 10% of vans in the UK kept in a garage overnight and poor success rates among police forces in recovering stolen tools, thieves are becoming increasingly brazen. Another contributing factor is the lack of adequate security measures taken by many van owners. 

By failing to invest in proper protection, tradesmen are inadvertently making their tools an easy target for criminals.

Protecting your tools

While the statistics may be daunting, there are steps you can take to significantly reduce the risk of tool theft. Here are some of the most effective strategies:Implement Effective Security Measures

Investing in enhanced alarm systems, physical security devices, and lock upgrades can go a long way in deterring thieves. Look for features like geo-fencing and 24-hour monitoring, and consider devices such as locking mechanisms for steering wheels, gear sticks, and pedals. 

Employ smart parking strategies

Where and how you park your van can make a big difference. Always aim to park in well-lit areas with CCTV coverage, close to other vehicles or in well-trafficked areas. When possible, park with sliding or rear doors adjacent to a wall or solid fence to make access more difficult for thieves.

Utilise secure storage solutions

Lockable tool boxes and vaults, such as van vaults, provide an extra layer of protection for your tools. Whenever possible, remove valuables from your van overnight and mark your tools with your name and postcode or the first three letters of your address. 

Using invisible marking with an ultraviolet pen can also help deter thieves and facilitate recovery if your tools are stolen.

Invest in tracking and recovery methods

GPS tracking devices offer real-time location updates and can be invaluable in locating stolen tools. Additionally, marking and registering your tools with services like Immobilise can assist law enforcement in identifying your property if it’s recovered.

The insurance imperative

Despite your best efforts, tool theft can still happen. That’s why having the right insurance coverage is crucial. When selecting a policy, carefully assess your needs and ensure that the sum insured covers the actual value of your tools. 

Read the policy terms and conditions carefully, and in the event of a theft, report the claim promptly, providing as much information and evidence as possible.

Tradesman Talk

Tool theft is a growing threat to the livelihoods of tradesmen across the UK, but by taking proactive steps to secure your tools and investing in the right insurance coverage, you can protect your business and your peace of mind.

At Tradesman Saver, we understand the unique risks faced by tradesmen, which is why we offer comprehensive tool theft insurance policies that cover the cost of replacing stolen tools, as well as professional indemnity, public liability, and more. 

We want to hear from you! What strategies have you implemented to protect your tools from theft? Have you ever fallen victim to tool theft, and if so, how did you navigate the aftermath? Share your experiences and insights in the comments below.

Dean Laming

Dean Laming is a Chartered Insurance Broker with more than 25 years insurance experience. Through various underwriting, operational and management roles, Dean has built up extensive knowledge of how to run a business and is now Managing Director of Tradesman Saver, part of the wider Henry Seymour Group.

All articles by Dean Laming

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