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More than £46m worth of tools reported stolen from vehicles in last six moths, with 12,769 cases reported in London

by Jennie Ward

Direct Line business insurance’s analysis of data from UK police forces regarding tool theft shows some worrying statistics, and whilst tradespeople are aware of the risks and impact of tool theft, many still appear to risk leaving tools in vehicles overnight and don’t have specific insurance in place to help deal with the consequences of tool theft.

More than £46 million worth of tools have been reported as stolen from vehicles in the UK since the easing of lockdown in April 2021, equating to an astonishing £245,893 stolen every day, according to an analysis of data from UK police forces by Direct Line business insurance.1

Separate research by the insurer2 has revealed Tradespeople are bearing the brunt, with nearly 4 in 10 (38 per cent) having fallen victim to tool theft in the past. The insurer says this is particularly worrying because with the clocks going back and the nights getting longer, the crime is likely to become even more common.

Direct Line business insurance says this is having a devastating impact on tradespeople’s livelihoods as on average, they estimate that it would take them a full working week (4.9 days) to replace the equipment, potentially preventing them from carrying out jobs and hitting them hard in the pocket.

Despite the threat, the company says over half of tradespeople (56 per cent) leave tools in a vehicle overnight, with nearly six in ten of this group (59 per cent) not even having specific insurance in place to help deal with the consequences of tool theft.

This is despite the data showing nearly a third (31 per cent) of tradespeople are more concerned about the problem now than they were before the pandemic, which suggests that awareness isn’t always translating into action. 

Direct Line business insurance says tool theft is a risk for tradespeople all over the UK, but London is a gold mine for thieves. 12,769 reported cases of tool theft from vehicles were recorded in the capital since the easing of lockdown in April, followed by West Yorkshire (400 cases), Northumbria (233 cases) and Kent (217 cases).

Top UK regions for tool theft from vehicles – Direct Line business insurance, 2021:

Promisingly, Direct Line business insurance says some tradespeople are implementing measures to protect their tools and livelihoods from thieves. These include:

  • Keeping tools in a property/garage overnight (30 per cent)
  • Keeping tools out of sight when they are stored (28 per cent)
  • Fitting an alarm on their vehicle (25 per cent)
  • Installing Van CCTV or dashcam (22 per cent)
  • Parking their vans in a safe and sensible space to deter potential thieves (21 per cent)

Jonny McHugh, Business Manager, Direct Line business insurance, said:

“Sadly, tool theft continues to be a real threat to tradespeople across the UK. While it’s promising to see some implement measures to protect their tools, it’s concerning that so many leave them in their vehicles overnight and do not have the correct insurance in place to help them deal with the consequences of theft.

“Our Tools Essentials service provides tradespeople with comprehensive cover, helping to safeguard them from expensive setbacks caused by the loss or theft of vital equipment. It helps replace essential tools within 24 hours of a valid claim so that tradespeople can get back to work quickly, minimising disruption.”

The Direct Line business insurance Tools Essentials service helps to replace essential tools within 24 hours, with an upfront faster payment of up to £1,500, subject to a few checks. Tools Essentials is available to every customer who has a valid tools claim and policy with Direct Line business insurance. Overnight Tools Cover, which carries an additional premium and excess, insures customers’ tools, up to £10,000, when kept in a locked vehicle overnight. The company says this is invaluable for tradespeople who are often working at a customer’s site and don’t have access to a locked building for storing tools overnight.  Claims can be reported between 8am-6pm, Monday to Friday, except Bank Holidays. Policy limits and exclusions apply.

For more information about Direct Line business insurance’s Tools Essentials Service and Overnight Tools  cover, please click here.

For tips on protecting tools from theft, click here.

FOI request to all police forces in England and Wales, with 27 providing relevant data

Nationally representative survey of 2,000 UK adults conducted by Opinium on behalf of Direct Line business insurance from 15th-19th October 2021 – 172 were tradespeople

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