Skip to content

Tool theft rising in UK

If you’re working as tradesperson, chances are you’ve been the victim of tool theft at some point in your working life.

Aside from the age old saying – a workman is only as good as his tools – the loss of business-critical kit is a headache most could do without.

However, if you’re working as a tradesperson, chances are you’ve been the victim of tool theft at some point in your working life – or you will be. Motoring research found that over a 40-year working life, tradespeople lose on average 6 days of work and £10,000 to tool theft.

The risk of tool theft is slightly higher depending on where in the UK you live and work. While Toolstation found that Northumbria took the top spot for tool theft, Kent was a close second. Unsurprising then that metropolitan police figures show a huge 25% increase in tool theft in London alone, a considerable year-on-year increase.

One-third of those thefts were from vehicles. Government data highlights that 47% of thefts from vehicles are caused by the vehicle door not being locked. While it’s easy to dismiss, it doesn’t have to be left unattended and unlocked for long for light tools to be lifted. Luckily only 19% of theft happens in broad daylight, most as you would expect are after dark during weekdays.

The most common targets for thieves were high-value items such as powered hand tools, the most common being drills and nail guns. While these are common tools for most in the trade, builders were found to be particularly affected with 8 in 10 builders reporting stolen tools.

In the wake of the pandemic, rising inflation and cost of living spiral it’s not surprising that the second-hand tool market is booming. But how many of the tools in circulation are acquired legally?

It’s critical then that those across all trades double-check the security measures that they have in place. These may include:

  • Always locking van doors, day and night
  • Do not store tools in your van overnight or use a tool safe if you do
  • Fit an alarm to your van along with stickers as a deterrent
  • Park in busy areas or areas covered by CCTV
  • Invest in dash cams to catch any activity while your vehicle is running.
  • Mark your tools as obviously yours, with brightly coloured paint, your name and postcode or security tags and chips.
  • Upgrading your van with telematics to include GPS van trackers.

Recovery rates for tools are low, so prevention is the best way to safeguard against theft.