The last few years have seen a rise in tool theft in the UK service industry. Every branch in the service industry, from TV renovation programs to DIY SOS workers have suffered from this kind of vice in the recent past. No matter who you are, thieves do not see it a big deal to break into your van and taking away your tools.
How Thieves Steal from Locked Vehicles
Studies into thefts from locked cars revealed that it takes the thieves as little as 20 seconds to break into a van and steal tools. The latest craze for thieves is to use the method called 'peel and pick', it is becoming alarmingly common. This method does not involve any tools, instead it involves thieves grabbing the top of the van's back or side doors with their fingers, putting their knees against the door and using their bodyweight to pull them down, revealing the contents inside. In other cases, the crooks invest in as little as £20 to have a skeleton key made for breaking into vans. The latter case is probably the most notorious when it comes to the loss of equipment, worth thousands of pounds, by tradespeople in the UK.
Reaction from Tradespeople
This rise in recent cases of theft resulted in protests from a group of tradesmen in the UK who are calling on the police to do more in helping recover the stolen tools. Common police advice to store work tools away from your van is not the solution to the problem, many people have no where inside to store equipment.
One tradesman known as Adam Smith was the first one to act when he mobilised the Facebook community. You might know him from his group, 'Band of Builders.’ Through the Builder’s Talk Group, Adam felt dumbfounded when he realised the extent of the theft was more than he could ever imagine. Out of 130 tradesmen who shared their grievances, the tools stolen amounted to a eye-watering £507,450.
The conversation also revealed that Ford Transit MK vans were the most targeted vans. This realisation required an intervention by the Ford management. Adam met with the Ford bosses with the hope of combating the trend where he also involved the Lincolnshire police force. Ford Transit MK vans are the most popular vehicles in this kind of industry. However, Adams did not stop there. He also contacted the manufacturers of the security equipment to see how they can assist in improving the security of the tradesmen’s tools.
Preventing the Theft of Your Tools
With the thieves being smart and theft cases rising every day, the only way to ensure your tools are safe is by taking precautions. Following our advice below will make it harder for a thief to get into your van to access your equipment.
- Take extra precautions when storing your tools. Remember, the most suitable time for the thieves to steal your tools is at night. To minimise these chances, remove your tools from the van at night since the peel & peel method proves locking your vehicle might be ineffective when it comes to keeping off the bandits.
- Park your van wisely. Ensure the security of your tools if you have to leave them in the van because you do not have enough space to store your equipment in your home or office. All you need to do is ensure that you park the van in such a way that the doors are inaccessible by thieves. For instance, you can park the van with the door against a hard wall or fence. This option might work against the peel and pick, but someone might use the skeleton key method. You can increase your chances of deterring thieves or the chances of catching them by parking in busy streets that have security cameras all over.
- Having an insurance policy is a good idea. Sometimes, protecting your equipment from theft may be impossible, but having them insured can ease the cost of replacement. Make sure that your cover is up to date and that you are familiar with the policy requirements. Adhere to these requirements.
- Mark your property. You can make it hard for the thieves to use your tools by putting a mark on them. For instance, you can write your name using a permanent marker. It is hard for a thief to remove such a mark. In case you want the mark to unidentifiable, then make that mark using a ultra-violet pen. In that case, you can only see the mark under a specific type of light.
How to Recover your Tools
Even with the above precautions, thieves tend to be notorious and they will find a way to reap where they have not sowed. If you are unlucky and your work equipment falls in the hands of such heartless people, then you can use the following tips to recover them.
- Have a copy of the serial number. Knowing the details about your tools make it easy for the police to recover your goods once stolen. Additionally, such details make it easy for you to make an insurance claim if you lose the goods completely.
- Report the theft to the police. Notifying the police is the first thing you should so once you notice that someone compromised your van. If you are far away from a police station, then you can reach them by simply dialling 101. Otherwise, you should walk into the station and file a report. A police report is highly effective because the officer will help you track your stolen items. He will also use the report to back up your claims once he finds the tools.
- Make use of your insurance policy. After you file the police report, contact your insurer and inform him about the theft. Doing so ensures that you process your claim early in time. Consequently, your work-related activities will proceed with little or no impediments.
- Be on the lookout for any shoddy deals. The thief does not take your tools so that he can go use them but instead, he wants to sell them for quick cash. In most cases, he will sell the items for an amount that is significantly lower than the price you paid for them. If you hear of anyone selling tools at such a price, then you can make further inquiries to know if they are stolen goods. Notify your local tradesman group and help other tradespeople.