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Tool theft: Tips to prevent it and what to do if the worst happens

Tool theft: Tips to prevent it and what to do if the worst happens

With tool thefts on the rise it is important to do everything you can to prevent thieves taking your tools, but if the worst happens, what do you do?

According to research, a van is broken into every 23 minutes in the UK and this epidemic is not only increasing but destroying livelihoods.

Many tradesmen are self employed and do not have the luxury of a regular monthly wage to rely on. Damage to a work van and the loss of their tools can be crippling for tradesmen who rely on these to make a living. Insurance companies can often take a long time to pay out, and there is no support financially for tradesmen who have been the victim of criminal damage or theft.

“With the increase in tool theft locally, I have had to take steps to prevent this from happening, says David Peters of Bossing Leadworks and Roofing, Newton abbot. Installing CCTV and removing my tools from my van overnight are just some of the steps I have had to take. Seeing the impact that tool theft has had on people I know, I cannot run the risk of this happening as I need my tools to make a living”

Many tradesmen are fighting back and calling for stronger punishments for tool thieves. There have been petitions circulating for stronger punishment for tool thieves as well as calls for the Government to look in to the growing problem.

On the Tradesmen Against Thieves Facebook group, members can share images and videos of thefts and offer tips for keeping tools secure, put out the word about stolen vehicles, tools, and more.


Here are a few tips for prevention:

  • Additional security such as hefty locks might make a thief think twice about breaking into your van
  • Visible CCTV cameras covering the area your van is parked overnight
  • Motion sensor security lights outside your property
  • Although not always practical, remove high value tools from your van overnight
  • If removal overnight is not an option, try adding extra security inside your van with locked internal cases
  • Mark or engrave tools with personal information to lower their value and increase the chance of the theft being identified
  • Invest in interior deadbolts for your van
  • Add GPS trackers to high value power tools
  • Take photographs and list all serial numbers of all your tools and equipment in case the worst happens

If the worst does happen, here is what to do next:

  • Report it to the police and get a crime reference number by calling the non-emergency number 101 or report crime online to the Devon & Cornwall Police here
  • Contact your insurance company and put in a claim, also contact your vehicle insurance company of there was damage to your vehicle.
  • Get on social media! Make your tools too hot to handle by posting to local groups, asking people to share your images and looks for groups online such as Stolen Trade Tools UK and Tradesmen Against Thieves Facebook group
  • Keep your eyes out on sites like Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and Ebay

Prevention is the key, but if the worst does happen, make sure you have put everything in place to help replace or recover your tools and equipment as swiftly as possible.

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