Secure your tools this summer!

Let’s fight back with forensic marking.

Tool theft is a well-documented blight on traders; but the latest figures show a worrying increase. A whopping £98 million’s worth of tools were stolen from tradespeople last year. Across 44,514 incidents, which is 5% more than in 2022, tools were reported stolen every 12 minutes. 

As we enter the busy summer season, a time when home improvements and renovations are well underway, your tools, van and livelihood could be even more vulnerable than ever! We’ve teamed up with SelectaDNA, to offer a solution that can help fight back against tool thieves.

Is tool theft getting worse?

Tools are most often stolen from vehicles; over 24,000 such incidents were reported last year, up 14% from the rate in 2022, and accounting for 55% of all tool thefts. And the impact of such a crime is massive.

Alongside the cost of replacing the stolen tools, 83% of tradespeople say they lost business as a result of the theft. The average tradesperson misses out on work worth £1,836, meaning as a whole, trades lost out on an estimated £82m last year in jobs. 

And then there is the emotional toll, which is hard to put a price on. Beyond the anxiety of being the victim of a crime, there is the stress of carrying on your business, to support yourself, your family and your employees. It can be a very worrying and isolating experience.

Why you might be more vulnerable to tool theft in summer

Although the summer season is something to look forward to, with (hopefully) better weather and longer days, it could make you more susceptible to tool thieves.

The warmer weather likely means doors and windows at home, or at the homes you’re working are left open and unlocked more often, offering tool thieves an easy break-in route. Similarly, you may be leaving your van windows and doors open to escape the hot air or to move tools and materials about on the job. Still, tool thieves will lurk and strike when they spot an opportune moment.

While tool theft peaks during the winter months, when thieves can manoeuvre under the cover of darkness, it’s a growing issue all year round. Organised criminal gangs are becoming more and more brazen, with increasing numbers of tradespeople reporting their tools stolen in broad daylight.

Why? Well, just 1% of tool theft victims have had their property fully recovered. Police forces struggle to fully track and trace stolen tools, with a booming market for second-hand tools on auction sites and at car boot sales. Without a clear and reasonable deterrent in place for thieves, it’s unlikely we’ll see the number of tradespeople affected by theft falling.

How can I keep my tools safe?

There are a few steps you can take to protect your tools:

  1. Never leave your tools unattended in a public setting.
  2. Try to avoid storing tools in your van: remove them when you’re on a job and bring them inside overnight.
  3. Store your tools in a quality, lockable tool chest or box, inside a securely locked van and/or garage.
  4. Protect your van/garage with motion-sensor lighting and alarms.
  5. Try to park your van in a way where access is limited, near a wall for example.

Always be on the lookout for suspicious behaviour or people you don’t recognise. Tradespeople have reported thieves walking onto site and taking tools unobstructed – all because they were wearing hi-vis jackets and hardhats.

Putting a stop to tool theft

Unfortunately, the stolen tools market is booming. So what we can we all do to try and thwart the thieves? One option is to mark your property in a way that undoubtedly links it back to you, and helps police forces return stolen goods to their rightful owners. We teamed up with Selectamark Security Systems plc to learn more, and understand how SelectaDNA forensic marking is making a huge difference.

Forensic marking is a technology that provides an irrefutable way of covertly linking property to owners and criminals to crime scenes. It allows you to protect your valuables, tools, vehicles and property, in turn making them a far less attractive prospect to criminals.

In the same way that forensic marking can help protect your home from burglary, SelectaDNA offers a range of Vehicle, Commercial Vehicle, and Tool Marking Kits. Not only does this help recover your vehicle and tools in the event of theft, but also prevents theft of the vehicle or its contents from ever taking place.

By applying the unique formula, which contains DNA, UV tracer and microdots, to your items, you brand your items with a direct trace back to you. It’s inconspicuous and almost impossible to remove, but can be analysed by the same methods as all other types of DNA testing. This means that every laboratory, police service and court of law in the world will be familiar with and trust the technology.

What’s remarkable is that criminals view items marked with SelectaDNA as too high risk and are further put off from stealing them as they have little or no resale value. By marking your vehicle with SelectaDNA and displaying the warning stickers, then the chances of theft are reduced dramatically.  

In fact, it’s been proven to reduce theft and burglary by up to 83%. There is nothing that criminals fear more than DNA evidence, which is why SelectaDNA is such an effective deterrent to theft, burglary, robbery and personal attacks.

Insuring your tools

Another critical layer in protecting your tools, and your trade, is insurance. It’s worth checking your van policy, to understand what is and is not covered. It could be that you need a separate tools policy.

Your local Howden Commercial team will be able to help you compare the various cover options, whether you haven’t yet opted for tool insurance, or purchased new tools that need including in existing cover, or even upgraded your van, get in touch. And we’re also here to support you in the event of a claim.

Sources: On the Tools, BBC, ADT, SelectaDNA

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