Tool theft is big business: Here's how to keep your gear safe Tool theft is big business: Here's how to keep your gear safe

Tool theft is big business: Here's how to keep your gear safe

A tradesperson's tools are essential to their business whether you're a builder, electrician, gardener or cleaner. So with 47% of businesses falling victim to tool theft in 2020, it's never been more important to protect your gear, because tool theft can have a devastating effect on a tradesperson's livelihood. From the cost to replace them and the loss of work to the time taken to do the paperwork to report them.

In this article, we'll explore the different steps you can take to increase your tool safety.

Secure your van

Your van is like the safe to your tools, so the more secure your van is, the less chance there is of the tool thief being successful. Thieves often look for vehicles that seem quick and easy to break into, this way they can be in and out in a flash. But with the right security measures in place, they can be put off before even trying.

Here are some simple things you can do to secure your van:

Remove your tools at night

Direct Line research in 2020 found that 7/10 tradespeople leave their tools in their van overnight, and that 53% of tool thefts take place at night. With this in mind, it seems obvious that removing your tools from your van can stop the theft altogether. Even though this means lugging your tools to and from your van every day, it could potentially save you a lot of money and hassle.

Learn the tricks of the trade

It's always worth thinking carefully about where you park. Thieves are less likely to target your van if there's a high chance they could be caught, by you or by someone else, so spending five more minutes looking for a well-lit, busy road to park on can save you lost work if your tools get stolen.

Sometimes, stickers are all it takes. If you can't afford to install GPS or CCTV in your van, popping some relevant stickers (i.e. this vehicle is alarmed or warning on board CCTV operating in this vehicle) on the side of your van in clear view could be enough to stop the thieves from breaking in. It's the ultimate trick. After all, who's willing to take the chance? If the thief's identity is caught on camera, they know they could be looking at a serious penalty. A sticker could be enough to put them off and increase your tool safety.

Make reselling a chore

You can make a thief's job hard. By engraving your tools or using invisible ink to mark them with your details, the thief will struggle to resell them without it being clear that they're stolen. And with a Direct Line report from May 2021 showing that 91% of tradespeople refuse to buy stolen tools, the thieves will likely want to avoid anything that looks suspicious.

Consider registering your most expensive tools on the National Property Register for the UK. This helps police to identify the owner of the recovered stolen property, including gadgets and tools, and improves your chances of getting them back. You can also report your items as stolen and find plenty of other helpful information on their website.

As well as this, tracking tags – such as Apple's AirTag - are increasingly common, easy to hide, and key in helping you recover your lost gear. That way, if the worst does happen and someone manages to get away with your tools, it won't be long before they're located. But make sure to hide or disguise the tags, otherwise they could be discarded before they're of use.

Look out for others

In the trade industry, you're all on the same team. With more than £80 million worth of tools stolen from trades between 2017 and 2020, it's not surprising to hear that Direct Line research found that 60% of tradespeople have come across stolen tool sellers at some point. But do you know what to look out for?

Keeping an eye out for other tradespeoples' tools helps to fast track the gear back to its owner. Here are some signs you can look out for to help you notice a stolen tool:

  • Engravings or personal markings
  • Suspiciously low price for the product
  • The seller's lack of knowledge about the tool
  • Eagerness to sell quickly

You can also check the serial number on online stolen register. There's a number of different sites, so it's worth having a quick search on Google. If the owner has reported it stolen, or if you're part of a local trade group, you could post the details on there for others to see. The internet can truly be used to your advantage in situations like this.

If you'd like to report a tool that you believe to be stolen, you can also contact your local police.

Insure your tools as soon as you buy them

If the worst were to happen, you want to make sure that you're covered. Because loss of tools can have a massive knock-on effect, resulting in loss of money and job opportunities. Direct Line Tools Essentials service comes with Tools and Business Equipment insurance and helps tradespeople replace their essential tools within 24 hours, with an upfront payment of up to £1,500, after a few checks.

Tools Essentials is available to every customer who has a valid tools claim and policy with Direct Line. You can report claims between 8am-6pm, Monday to Friday, except Bank Holidays. Policy limits and exclusions apply.

How else can we help?

From health and safety to cementing customer relationships, hopefully you now have everything you need to maximise your opportunities post-pandemic and beyond. For more tradesman tips and news, visit our Business Blog. It's packed with insights and support to help you construct a successful future.

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Last Updated: 17 Nov 2021