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How to avoid tool theft from vans

by Andy Clutton

Tool theft is a problem that many tradespeople face, losing some of their most important tools to crime, this hurts businesses and forces tradespeople to invest even more into equipment for their work. Toolstation recently conducted research into the matter of tool theft, to see just how much tradespeople across the UK are losing, and to uncover some information on how and when tool theft happens.

According to government data, tool thefts account for one in ten vehicle break-ins in the UK. This was overtaken only by thefts of electrical equipment (13%), exterior fittings (19%) and valuables (39%).

Data from the Metropolitan police reveals Enfield residents to be the most at risk when it comes to tool theft with 1,096 cases reported. This totals a loss of £978,525 for the London borough.

Separate data gathered from London boroughs reveals some high statistics, with London alone reporting a total of 17,469 reports of tool theft, the results reveal:

  • Enfield experienced the most tool thefts of the London boroughs, with 1,096 thefts, estimating a cost of £978,525.
  • The majority of boroughs reported cases of tool theft with losses of £10,000 and over.
  • Barnet also reported a high level of thefts, with this borough reporting 1,033 counts of theft, with an estimated cost of £930,825.

Tools not only hold monetary value, they also represent the livelihood of tradespeople and so it’s important that toolboxes are protected at all costs. The best deterrent for theft is often added security.

Toolstation spoke to expert Lee Devlin, MD at Homecure Plumbers to get his advice on preventing tool theft in the future:

Never leave your tools in your van or vehicle overnight if you can – Tools kept in a van or vehicle is too tempting for criminals. Where possible, store them in a locked premises/site unit when working away from home or take them home with you just to be sure.

Invest in a sticker – No, really! You can buy an inexpensive notice that says ‘tools are not left in here’ or ‘No tools are left in this vehicle overnight’ which can help deter thieves from attempting to break into your vehicle.

Park your van close to the side of your house/a wall/obstacle – When parking up, ensure your vehicles’ rear doors are facing an obstacle, with a maximum gap of 1ft, preventing thieves from opening doors sufficiently enough to get or see into.

Park your van in a locked garage – If you have access to a locked garage, be sure to use it, as this help to keep vehicles out of sight and adds an additional barrier for thieves.

Check your vehicles alarm regularly – Check the alarms and locking features on your vehicles are working and noises can be heard loudly and attract attention when sounding.

Have an immobiliser fitted to your vehicle – Some thieves might try to take the whole vehicle and not just tools. To prevent this, have an immobiliser installed (and check it is working) to prevent thieves from simply ‘hotwiring’ your vehicle.

Use a good quality lock/padlock on rear doors – Invest in good quality (and additional) locks for your rear doors to help provide added protection, increasing the effort would be thieves would need to put in to break into your vehicle and steal tools

Stop thieves from looking in and reduce sight lines – Blackout tints, films and even partitions can help reduce the sightlines of thieves and prevent them from casing out your vehicle or knowing what is kept inside.

Keep tool bags and boxes close on public transport – When travelling to jobs via public transport with tools, keep them close to you and preferably in front of you, so you can keep an eye on them, and don’t leave them unattended in overhead racks.

Ask employers and professional bodies for advice – New security devices and features are regularly being released, with professional bodies often providing both advice and updates on how to find and use new techniques.

Take out adequate insurance for both your vehicle and tools – If needed, especially for self-employed tradespeople, make sure your vehicle has the correct insurance and ideally invest in additional tool insurance to ensure you are doubly covered should they get lost or stolen in transit or on-site.”

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