Tool theft claims rise 54% in two years

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tool theft, insurance
© Oleg Dudko

Insurance claims by tradespeople affected by tool theft have increased 54% in the previous two years

The data, released by insurer Simply Business, shows the average claim for stolen tools costs £1,684, while there has also been a notable rise in the number of break-ins with no signs of forced entry. 

Analysis of over 2,000 tool theft claims reveal the number of incidents jumped from 412 in 2016, to 893 in 2018, rising 54% overall. 

The research, which comes as the Simply Business launches a campaign to Stamp Out Tool Theft, shows the South West saw the most dramatic rise in incidents (81%) followed by London (67%) and the North West (63%).

The North East has the highest average claim (£2,033), closely followed by the East Anglia (£2,005) and the South West (£1,979). This figure doesn’t include loss of earnings as a result of tool theft, or replacing tools which haven’t been insured, so the real amount is likely to be much higher.  

Furthermore, the analysis revealed 87 different industries have fallen victim to tool theft in the last two years, showing just how widespread the issue has become. Across the UK, one in three (37%) tradespeople have experienced tool theft. 

The top five affected trades for tool theft:

  1. Builders – 675 claims
  2. Carpenters – 357 claims
  3. Electricians – 258
  4. Plumbing, heating & ventilation contractors – 223 claims
  5. Joiners – 214 claims

A large number of thefts now occur without a forced break in, where thieves use an electronic key fob to swiftly unlock keyless entry systems. This makes it easier to steal tools, and harder to notice when they have been stolen.

Simply Business is calling on the government to implement greater fines for those convicted of tool theft, as well as tighter regulations on the selling of second-hand tools. The petition aims to secure 100,000 signatures for the measures to be debated in the House of Lords and be viewed here

Bea Montoya, chief operating officer at Simply Business, commented: “Tradespeople are the backbone of Britain, but they’re being stopped in their tracks on a daily basis due to the ongoing tool theft epidemic.

“Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly common to see tools being stolen without leaving any visible sign of forced entry. The rise of keyless entry has meant the way thieves operate is changing, and it’s potentially becoming easier to steal tools.

“Tools insurance is a good safety net should the worst happen, but prevention should always be the priority.”

Top 5 tips for preventing tool theft

Montoya suggests the following measures to prevent tool theft;

  • Park against a wall – Park with sliding or rear doors against a wall or sturdy fence so it’s difficult for them to be opened.
  • Remove tools overnight – Nowadays, a lot of break ins can be from ‘peel and steal’ and electronic key fobs, so even well-secured vans are at risk.
  • Mark your tools – Having identification marks on your tools makes it difficult for stolen tools to be sold on. It also helps to recognise you as the owner if they’re recovered.
  • Record serial numbers – Make a note of serial numbers, as well as the make and model of tools you own. Providing this to police in the event of them being stolen will help to identify your tools if they’re found, as well as easing the process of making an insurance claim.
  • Make sure you’re insured – Replacing your tools is likely to be expensive. Having insurance in place, whether standalone tools insurance, or as part of your business insurance policy, can help to give you peace of mind as well as support with the sudden financial shock of tool theft.

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