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Tool theft: Britain’s £3.5bn crime

SEVENTY-EIGHT percent of tradespeople have been victims of tool theft incidents says Clive Holland, broadcaster of Fix Radio, the UK’s dedicated radio station for the trade, who recently discussed how these crimes are impacting the sector.

Tool theft has been an ongoing national crisis in the construction industry with more than a third of van drivers falling victim to thefts last year, according to Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VW). Collectively across the UK, it was also reported by VW that £3.5bn worth of equipment was stolen last year, predominantly affecting the self-employed. Now, it’s has been predicted that these crimes are set to increase as daylight hours have reduced.

Clive says: ‘Police data shows a 44% increase in tool theft from vans during November 2022 compared to April 2022 when the clocks moved forward and the days got lighter. With a low conviction rate, and often lenient sentencing, the legal system doesn’t present much of a deterrent to tool thieves. In an attempt to bring the conversation of tool theft to the national agenda, Clive discusses how these crimes are impacting the sector.’

A new landmark study from Fix Radio shows a quarter (25%) of tradespeople say as someone who’s reliant on having a vehicle for work, protecting it and the contents is their biggest cause of stress.

New research from VW found 48% of van drivers keep more than £2,150 worth of tools in their vans overnight, meaning UK tradespeople are risking up to £5bn in lost equipment.

UK police forces reported more than 9,000 complaints relating to tool theft in 2022, with 6,000 of those taking place in London alone.

‘Tool theft is an issue that affects the livelihood and mental health of tradespeople, who in 59% of cases, don’t have tool insurance and find themselves out of work for days. On average, Direct Line estimates it takes a tradesperson a full working week to replace their tools in the event of theft.

‘We don’t have the figures for 2023 yet, but data for 2022 has shown that hundreds of thousands of tools have been stolen every day.

‘Despite the size of the problem or its impact on tradespeople everywhere, nothing is being done to combat the tool theft epidemic sweeping the country. Police are overwhelmed, politicians don’t care, and better security features on vans or tools isn’t a priority with manufacturers.

‘Tool theft isn’t a ‘victimless’ crime – it attacks the livelihoods of the UK’s two million tradespeople. It means work is lost, earnings disrupted and plunges many tradespeople into debt just to replace tools just so they can go back to work.’

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