ONE IN THREE (37%) tradespeople have had their tools stolen, costing a combined average of £3,005 each in lost earnings (£870) and replacing stolen tools (£2,135), according to recent research. Insurance company Simply Business has launched a campaign to Stamp Out Tool Theft, following the investigation.
The small business insurer, with half a million SMEs customers, is calling on the government to give bigger fines to tool thieves, as well as cracking down on second-hand tool sales.
The insurer has launched a petition aiming to get 100,000 signatures triggering a debate in Parliament.
To start the campaign, a mobile billboard was driven to the front door of parliament on Monday 1 October, highlighting the thousands of victims of tool thefts to the government.
The mobile billboard then travelled to some of the capital’s biggest building sites across Battersea, Nine Elms and Wandsworth. It also stopped off and visited well-known businesses on the way, such as Pimlico Plumbers, Screwfix and Plumbase.
Impact of tool thefts on tradespeople
While Brexit has been taking all government’s attention, tool theft continues to have a serious impact on the lives of millions of tradespeople every year.
Well over a third (37%) have fallen victim, while 65% also know someone who has. On average, tool theft costs £870 in lost earnings each. Almost a fifth (18%) lost more than £1,000 in lost earnings.
Adding to this, the average tools stolen are worth £2,135, costing more than a month’s average real-time earnings. This means the average tool theft costs victims a combined £3,005.
And that’s not all, over a quarter (26%) surveyed couldn’t work for a few days, while just under a tenth (8%) were unable to work for over a week.
One in three (33%) had their tools stolen from the building site – either from their van or from the site itself. Almost a fifth (16%) had tools stolen from their van while parked in the street or in a public car park.
Is the government doing enough?
A staggering 84% of tradespeople don’t believe the government is doing enough to prevent tool theft. Just under two thirds (60%) surveyed believe there needs to be greater sentences for thieves, while more than half (55%) believe there should be greater fines for those convicted.
Over a quarter (28%) of tradespeople believe the sentence for tool theft should be five years in prison, and over one in 10 (15%) believe a £10,000 fine should be imposed.
Half (50%) of tradespeople also believe there should be greater funding for police and police presence on the streets, a third (32%) want to see greater restrictions on the selling of second-hand tools, and a further third (30%) believe there should be more CCTV in place. In addition, one in five(20%) want to see more street lights installed to deter thieves.
Bea Montoya, Chief Operating Officer at Simply Business: “Tradespeople are the backbone of Britain, but they’re being stopped in their tracks on a daily basis due to the ongoing tool theft epidemic.
“Tool theft rips through the lives of thousands of tradespeople and their families every year, with victims losing out on over £3,000 each on average – through lost earnings and replacing stolen equipment. Having their tools stolen doesn’t just impact their ability to work, but it affects their livelihoods too.
“Brexit is having a paralysing effect on British politics, but there are pressing issues at home which urgently need addressing. This is why we’re calling on the government to Stamp Out Tool Theft once and for all. We want to see greater fines imposed on those convicted, as well as tighter regulations on the selling of second hand tools which, because of their high value, are often stolen to sell on the black market.
“Putting these two measures in place will go a long way in combating tool theft, protecting the lives and jobs of millions of tradespeople up and down the country.”
Top 5 Tips for Preventing Tool Theft
2. Remove tools overnight – Nowadays, a lot of break ins can be from ‘peel and steal’ and electronic key fobs, so even well-secured vans are at risk. If you can, remove tools from your vehicle overnight to completely reduce the risk of losing them, even if an attempt is made.
3. Mark your tools – Having identification marks on your tools (e.g. from paint or permanent marker) makes it difficult for stolen tools to be sold on. It also helps to recognise you as the owner if they’re recovered.
4. Record serial numbers – Make a note of serial numbers, as well as the make and model of tools you own. Providing this to police in the event of them being stolen will help to identify your tools if they’re found, as well as easing the process of making an insurance claim.
5. Make sure you’re insured – Replacing your tools is likely to be expensive. Having insurance in place, whether standalone tools insurance, or as part of your business insurance policy, can help to give you peace of mind as well as support with the sudden financial shock of tool theft. Check your policy and if you don’t already have tools insurance included, consider adding it on. You should also check your policy wording to find out exactly what’s covered, what the limits and excesses are, and if there’s any exceptions to be aware of.