Tool theft is one of the crimes which has seen a substantial increase in recent times. A recent report found that more than three quarters of trades people have had their tools stolen. The in depth report created by On The Tools reviews everything from the type and location of tool theft, to the impact of these crimes on the finances and mental health of the victims.

Power tools and their accessories were stolen most frequently and accounted for over 50% of tool thefts recorded. Hand tools make up almost a quarter of tools stolen, but other tools of the trade are also at risk. Ladders and storage as well as testing and measuring equipment make up one in 5 incidents of tool theft.

The Cost of Tool Theft

As you might imagine, this is incredibly costly to tradespeople. One insurer recorded an average of over £1700 per claim and Lancashire Constabulary alone recorded tool thefts with a total property value of £1.3 million pounds last year.

The cost of these incidents goes beyond the financial cost. Seventy eight percent of tradespeople in the study reported having had their tools stolen. It was also 78% of respondents who said that having their tools stolen has impacted their mental health. Increased anxiety and fear, problems sleeping, stress and depression were experienced by over 1/3 of respondents since having their tools stolen.

Can Tool Theft Be Avoided?

Around half of the incidents involved tools being stolen from the victim’s van parked outside their home, from inside their home or from their place of storage such as a garage. Most of these involved theft from a van. So how can you avoid having your tools stolen? There are a number of steps you can take to protect your equipment.

It goes without saying that you should always lock your van and keep valuables out of sight; Opportunistic criminals can strike if you’ve just nipped out of the van for a moment. Others may simply be trying door handles – and their luck.

Keeping Your Tools Safe

Consider fitting a tool safe into your van for an extra level of security when your tools are in your van. If you’re working away from home request secure overnight parking if possible.

It’s always advisable to empty your van when you arrive home and store your tools in a secure place. Most people don’t have space within their home so tools are often stored in a garage or a storage unit. Whilst your home might have a home security system installed, these don’t always extend to the garage. You can add a garage on to your existing burglar alarm system, and connect it through to work together. However you may wish to have the garage alarm armed when you’re at home, for example during the evening or over the weekend. Alternatively you can install a stand alone security system on the garage. An alarm bell box would deter criminals. The activated alarm would wake neighbours and cause the criminal to scarper. And if you opt for a smart alarm system, you’d be alerted of any break in immediately.

Parking and Marking

Park in a secure location, with the van doors close to a wall, a fence or a hedge to make it harder to access. It’s wise to install CCTV as this can deter thieves from approaching your property. CCTV is a well documented deterrent. Some CCTV systems can give audio warnings and alert criminals to the fact that they are being recorded. It also provides crucial evidence if there is an incident.

Protect your tools with some pre-emptive steps. These are several products available on the market to mark your tools. Mark your tools with your name and photograph them to make them easy to identify if they are stolen. Visible marking will also make the tools harder to sell if they are stolen.

Use stickers and signs to advertise the security you have in place; this might be CCTV signs, security warnings on your van or stickers on your tools. One in five people said they buy their tools second hand – and almost all of them said they checked the tools for marks or engravings – or only used reputable sellers.