The shocking rise of van tool theft in the UK
Sep 28, 2018
Van tool theft is frustratingly becoming more common, better planned, and harder to prosecute. This is creating a difficult situation for tradesmen and professionals who want to get on with their projects, effectively support their customers, and do a high quality job. There are tools with sentimental value being stolen, items that have been passed down from generation to generation, as well as brand new and expensive equipment.
In this article, we are going to explore the topic of van tool theft in the UK…
How much? And where?
One study from Simply Business collected data from tool theft claims between 2012 and 2016, showing an alarming rise in the criminal offence. The result of their study was a 30.5% increase in van tool thefts, and a 40% increase in the value of equipment stolen.
In terms of the number of thefts, these 5 cities topped the rankings:
For the average value of claims, the list changes slightly:
With millions of pounds worth of equipment stolen, having to rent temporary tools, losing out on jobs, and facing lengthy waits to get compensation from insurers, tradesmen are often left out of pocket.
How is van tool theft in the UK taking place?
Whilst we can’t come and physically stand outside your van to stop would-be thieves from breaking in, we can tell you about some of the techniques they are using, and what you should be wary of.
Peel and steal
The simplest of techniques for a van thief is to apply pressure to the van’s sliding side door with their knees and pull the top of the door frame towards them. This is known as the peel and steal technique, and can be done with strength and brute force, as opposed to a crowbar, for example. As the thief doesn’t carry any tools for the job, it’s hard to spot and prosecute them. This activity often takes place with two or three people working together.
Solution: Park with the sliding door side against a wall or fence, or alternatively, reinforce the door.
This technique is far more sophisticated and requires some electronic equipment to support it. Thieves will purchase a fob online, and use an intercepting device to capture the signal sent from the van owner’s fob to their van. The thief will then use their own fob to replicate that signal and gain entry to the vehicle. The scary thing about this method is that the fobs can be bought online very cheaply, and thieves can steal almost without a trace.
Solution: Use keys to open the door manually.
Quality over quantity
Taking a whole toolbox or a heavy piece of equipment from a van makes getting away a lot harder, so thieves have educated themselves on the contents of toolboxes and vans to see what items are most valuable, so that they can steal them and leave low value items behind.
Solution: Take all, or the most valuable tools, inside your home at night.
Dressing up as workmen
Thieves will occasionally go undercover, hiding in plain sight, to get what they want: your tools. Whilst this doesn’t happen often, it’s important to be wary of those around you that you don’t know, or anyone acting suspicious.
Solution: Lock your vehicle, and don’t leave the doors open unless somebody is supervising the contents.
What is being done to tackle van tool theft in the UK?
There are two initiatives currently ongoing to try and protect tradesmen and their tools, as well as reduce the incentives for would-be van and tool thieves.
The first is a call for tougher sentencing on tool thieves, by way of a petition on the 38 Degrees website. At the time of writing this article, the petition, ‘Tool Crime. Deserves Time.’ has over 32,000 of the 35,000 required signatures in order to get it in front of the Government for a discussion. The main points of this petition argue not only that punishments should be more severe for thieves, but that the Government should introduce new guidelines on the sale of second hand tools, and that victims of van tool theft in the UK should be reimbursed immediately so that they don’t face downtime as a result of it.
The second initiative is a positive sign for tradesmen and van owners, as they are invited to join what is being called ‘The Band of Builders’. In their own words ‘Band of Builders aims to help members of the construction industry when times get tough, whether that’s through hands-on projects, advice and support, or just the sense of community that has grown through the simple act of wearing a BoB t-shirt or hoodie.’
In order to protect UK van owner’s tools from theft, Band of Builders’ founder, Adam Smith, has met with and appealed to Ford in an attempt to get them to redesign their Transit vans, as they are the market’s most popular choice (and thus most stolen from). He will be trying to work with other van manufacturers, like Mercedes, in the future to also encourage anti-theft designs.
The final solution
This article is not about us, it’s about you, van drivers of the UK, and your prized tools. However, we want to let you know that we don’t only support you without our material supplies and services, we also stock the Tuffbank toolbox* to protect your assets from prying eyes and opportunist criminals.
*The Tuffbank TB1 has anti-jemmy functionality, strong 5-lever deadlocks, is made of steel, comes with a Chubb key and it welded with a unique serial number.