UK tradespeople report spike in stolen equipment

Tool theft

Tool theft is on the rise with 36% of van drivers falling victim to theft last year, representing a 33% increase since 2020, according to research by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. UK tradespeople reported £3.5bn worth of stolen equipment last year.

A total of 48% of van drivers were keeping more than £2,150 worth of tools in their vans overnight, it found.

In a freedom of information request, police forces across the UK reported over 9,000 complaints relating to tool theft in 2022. London remained a hot spot for the crime in 2022 with over 6,000 reports in the Capital alone.

From a financial perspective, van owners who are on the receiving end of tool theft are at risk of an increase in future insurance premiums. With theft on the rise, there has never been a more pressing time for van drivers to ensure that their vehicles are protected, the company said.

Volkswagen Financial Services offered its top tips on the ways van drivers can protect their vehicles:

  1. Be a conscious parker: When possible, ensure that the van is parked in a well-lit place which is visible to passers-by, not in areas which are secluded and dark
  2. Stay alert, be aware: Check your surroundings before offloading your tools – savvy thieves can spot a high value tool and are willing to take risks to steal them
  3. Track your vehicle: Consider fitting your van, or tools, with a tracking device so that you can see where they are at all times
  4. “No tools on board”: The best way to prevent your tools from being stolen is to not leave them in the van, especially overnight. If you remove your vehicles from your van, then consider affixing a sign to the van saying ‘no tools left in vehicle overnight’
  5. Take note: If you do need to leave any tools in your vehicles, then ensure that they are security marked (noting the serial numbers of all tools is also advised). If your tools are tagged, then put a sticker on them to advertise this fact
  6. Taking extra precautionary measures: Sometimes tools have to be left in a vehicle, in a vulnerable location. If this is the case, then consider fitting additional safety locks to the rear and side door, or install lockable racking and safe boxes, making it harder for thieves to break in.

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