Although vehicle theft has declined in recent decades, there’s a widely-recognised rise in tool theft from vehicles in the UK - which shows no signs of slowing down.
In just two years, tool theft from vans has increased by 54%, and it’s estimated that in the UK a van is broken into every 23 minutes.
Specialist building services insurer ECIC states last year that the average claim for tool theft was £2,685, but in reality, the true cost of the crime can be far greater.
Businesses and individual tradespeople can lose huge amounts of money when they are victim to tool theft - not only incurring direct costs in replacing valuable tools and increased insurance premiums, but particularly in the case of small businesses or small traders, work could be at a standstill for days or weeks as their van could be out of action, and they wait for tools to be replaced.
When a tradesperson is unable to work, there is also a potential knock-on effect for revenue and business growth in the form of lost contracts or impaired customer relationships. If work has to be cancelled or curtailed at the last minute, reputation can be affected if this also results in negative word-of-mouth feedback or bad reviews online. We all know the Internet has a very long memory and poor reviews can be very costly.
Stress and mental health ramifications, particularly for sole traders or business owners who are repeated victims of van break-ins can also result in lost productivity and time off work.
With so much potential for lost revenue, lost productivity and the far-reaching consequences of tool theft, it really is one of the lowest forms of crime to damage someone’s livelihood.
Even if tools have been removed from the van as many a sticker states, and would-be tool thieves leave empty-handed, the resulting damage to the van can render it off the road, necessitating extensive repairs, entire new doors or locking systems fitted.
Although most victims of van tool theft have appropriate insurance, it can often be a struggle getting an insurer to pay out - and the process isn’t always instant. It can take months to recover funds, meaning tradespeople must use contingency budget in the interim to keep their business going. This can affect cash flow, creditworthiness and prevent businesses from taking opportunities, resulting in stunted growth.
Ian Hollingworth of ECIC said: “The increase of van thefts is widely recognised but showing no signs of abating. It is hugely disruptive to contractors, impacting work commitments, and insurance costs. At ECIC we always find ways to pay claims but some contractors may find themselves facing an uphill battle if their insurer feels they have not taken enough precautions to protect their property from theft.’
The fault for tool theft always lies with the criminals, though tradesmen do need to take action to protect themselves from the risk of tool theft and prevent thieves from compromising their livelihood. A robust supplementary locking system could be the difference between thieves making you a successful target, or their attempt to break into your van being thwarted