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Tool Theft: UK Tradespeople Increasingly Vulnerable To Gang Behaviour

Tool theft has been an ongoing national crisis in the construction industry for some time now, and UK Tradespeople are now grappling with increasing van insurance costs as thieves target vans, inflicting extensive damage with an array of power tools, resulting in substantial financial losses. In an attempt to bring the conversation of tool theft to the national agenda, Clive Holland, broadcaster on Fix Radio – the UK’s only dedicated radio station for the trades – discusses ways in which tradespeople can prevent tool theft, and safeguard their tools.

A new landmark study from Fix Radio shows that 25% of tradespeople say protecting their work vehicle and its contents, pose the biggest cause of stress for them. In London, some 8,327 thefts from vans were reported with tools worth more than £21.4 million having been stolen over a 12-month period. Additional research from VW also found that 48% of van drivers keep more than £2,150 worth of tools in their vans overnight, meaning UK tradespeople are risking up to £5 billion in lost equipment – a staggering figure. UK Police Forces reported more than 9,000 complaints relating to tool theft in 2022.

Tool theft is an issue that affects the livelihood and mental health of tradespeople, who in 59% of cases, don’t have tool insurance and find themselves out of work for days. On average, Direct Line estimates it takes a tradesperson a full working week to replace their tools in the event of theft.

Clive Holland, host of The Clive Holland Show on Fix Radio, shares his thoughts on how tradespeople can safeguard their tools, and the role tool manufacturers can play:

“When it really comes down to it, there’s a couple of things I think we’ve got to think about. One is we’ve got to protect ourselves. That’s key. Protecting ourselves, making sure the van is empty at night, if possible, taking it out and locking it away.

“Tool manufacturers also need to start thinking about how to make these tools less stealable by putting in trackers. Yes, it will put an extra price on those tools, but at the same time we know that we’ll be able to track where those tools are going.”