A hammer is on the wooden floor, next to a tape measure and a tool bag with a selection of tools typical for someone working in the construction industry

Sadly, tool theft is a common occurrence in the construction industry, with more than half of UK tradespeople revealing that at some point they’d had their tools stolen, equating to an average daily loss of income of around £350.

What is the leading cause of tool theft?

A lack of vehicle security is a major factor in tool theft figures, with a study by business comparison site iCompario finding that of 1,000 van drivers surveyed, 45% said they do not lock their vehicles when it isn’t being used. 

Meanwhile, 76% of respondents admitted to knowingly leaving their van at risk of being stolen, 64% said they didn’t remove tools and other valuables from their vehicle when not being driven and 77% did not have an alarm or immobiliser installed to secure their vehicle. 

Unsurprisingly, unlocked doors are the leading cause (47%) of vehicle entry in cases of theft, followed by an offender breaking a window (19%), an offender manipulating a signal from a remote locking device (13%) and an offender forcing the lock (12%).

What are the most commonly stolen items? 

According to Toolstation, the most commonly stolen items in the UK are:

1. Drill

2. Saw

3. Nail gun

4. Tool box

5. Hedge trimmer

6. Screwdriver

7. Leaf blower

8. Power washer

9. Spanner

10. Hammer

Which areas are the worst for tool theft in the UK?

As part of their research, iCompario also sent out a Freedom of Information request to police forces across the country. Of the 21 authorities that responded, below are the ten areas with the highest recorded number of van break-ins or thefts between 2018 - 2022.

The FOI request also found that Ford Transit drivers were targeted the most, followed by owners of a Mercedes Sprinter, Vauxhall Vivaro and Citroen Berlingo.

1. Leicestershire – 10,494 reports

2. Hertfordshire – 9,740 reports

3. Avon and Somerset – 6,832 reports

4. Surrey – 5,145 reports

5. South Wales – 3,919 reports

6. Derbyshire – 3,724 reports

7. Northamptonshire – 3,523 reports

8. Sussex – 3,180 reports

9. West Midlands – 2,974 reports

10. Dorset – 2,591 reports

Which areas have the lowest number of van thefts and break-ins?

1. Welsh counties of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, and Powys - 50 reports

2. Cumbria - 86 reports

3. Cleveland – 550 reports

4. North Yorkshire – 654 reports

5. Cambridgeshire – 783 reports

What steps can tradespeople take to prevent tool theft?

There are a number of quick and easy measures tradespeople can take to significantly reduce the risk of tool theft. The most obvious of these is to make sure your vehicle is locked and your keys are left in a safe, secure place. 

Removing tools and equipment from your van overnight is another effective measure that costs nothing. As is parking intelligently, clever parking — for example with back doors against a wall or garage — can make it difficult for a thief to enter your vehicle.

High-quality locks and an intelligent immobiliser are both also incredibly useful ways of deterring and preventing tool theft, and fitting a tracking device could be priceless in finding a stolen van. 

The value of insurance

Given the frequency of tool theft in the UK, investing in the right insurance is vital when it comes to protecting your property and in turn, your business. With that being said, both tools and van insurance should be a serious consideration for any tradesperson.