Tool theft is a huge problem for anyone in the trades. A staggering £83 million worth of tools have been stolen in the UK in just the past 3 years. Unfortunately, only 3% are ever found and returned, so prevention is definitely better than cure. So how can you avoid falling victim to tool thieves?
- Mark your tools. Get your name on your tools in a prominent place. Thieves will have more problems selling things on if they’re obviously marked or defaced. A permanent marker will do if that’s all you’ve got to hand. Engraving is even better. You can also mark them with an invisible UV pen – but an ‘ugly’ tool is less likely to get lifted than one that looks pristine.
- Don’t leave things lying around on site. It only takes a second for an unattended tool to go walkabout – sometimes in error, sometimes on purpose. Try and keep tools secured or in sight if you’re not using them.
- Secure your van or lock-up well. A pair of bolt cutters will make light work of a flimsy chain or padlock. It’s worth investing in heavy duty locks, deadbolts and chains, alarm systems or CCTV cameras, where appropriate. Security lights are a good idea as is parking your van in a busier, well-lit area where you can see it, if possible.
- Get a secure storage container. Thieves like to be in an out fast so they don’t get caught – throwing as many obstacles in their way will help put them off. If they do manage to get into your van or lock-up, storing your tools in a secure, heavy container with a hefty lock and hinges adds an extra barrier.
- Split things up. Thieves like an easy target – a tool without a battery or charger isn’t going to be much use. So if you can, remove the component parts and store them separately. It might be a bit of a faff, but so is filling out police and insurance reports.
- Get techy. In the digital age, it’s easier than ever to keep track of your tools with things like GPS trackers, smart padlocks and digital inventories that log and monitor tools across job sites.
- Record the serial numbers. Although, it’s unlikely your stolen tools will find their way back to you, it’s worth noting down the make, model and serial numbers of your tools just in case they turn up somewhere, so you can prove they are yours. You can also register your tools for free on the UK National Property Register to help protect them. The information they hold can be used by police forces across the UK to track stolen property.
Unfortunately, tool theft is something we trades all have to worry about. However, taking a few simple steps to protect your property could make all the difference in preventing potential thieves from making off with your kit.