Tradesmen fear tool thieves

A survey by Simply Business has found that 98% of tradesmen have a real fear of their tools being stolen by thieves.

The survey asked ‘Do you worry about thieves breaking into your van?’ Of the 490 respondents, 98% replied that they do.

Recent months have seen a rise in the number of reported cases of tradesmen having their tools stolen from their vans. This can be devastating for a tradesman, who relies on their tools for their business. 

Worse yet, high quality power tools and other equipment can be extremely expensive to replace. When asked to share their experience, 130 members of the Facebook forum ‘Builders Talk Group’ stepped forward. Addam Smith, a member of ‘Band of Builders’, examined each case and found that, combined, it would cost £507,450 not just to replace the stolen tools but also to repair the damaged vans and make up for lost work.

“At the end of the day it’s my livelihood and I’m having to fork out thousands of pounds of my own money to replace equipment which some low-life has taken from me,” maintenance manager Tony McGill, who has had his own tools stolen multiple times, told the Swindon Advertiser. “I want them caught.”

“They're taking our liberties and livelihoods away from us,” said Paul Shephard, who had £3,200 worth of tools stolen from his van.

“Those who can't afford to replace the tools straight away, this means they can't work or if they do replace their tools, they probably can't afford to pay for other things like mortgage payments and other bills that need paying.”

Tradesmen are not taking this lying down. Mr Smith arranged a meeting with Ford about improving the security of their vans. Self employed carpenter Mark Riley began a petition calling for ‘Stronger punishment for perpetrators of tool thefts from tradesman’s vehicles.

“The replacement of these tools usually costs thousands of pounds and in some cases insurance companies have six weeks to settle any claims,” Riley says. “That’s six weeks financial burden to a victim of this crime.”

The petition, started in January, has 7,409 supporters.

Thames Valley Police issued a warning to local tradesmen, saying it was important “that tools are not stores in vans overnight” and that vehicles are kept secure.

“Not everyone can empty their vans at night and not everyone has insurance cover,” Riley continues.

“This type of crime is classed as petty crime but a tradesmen who has paid for his tools with blood, sweat and tears doesn't feel this is a petty crime. Every morning I walk out my house wondering if today is the day that my van has been broken into.

This crime has reached epidemic proportions and it's affecting hundreds of hard-working tradesmen. Every day I see more victims posting about their plight via Facebook and it's sickening to see.”