What can be done about tool theft?

In this month’s article, Mark Allison talks about tool theft and the impact it has on tradespeople.

The call for debate on the sale of second-hand tools at car boot sales and the like is growing ever bigger – with a demo involving hundreds of tradespeople happening in London today. This shows the scale of the problem tradespeople battle each week.

In my small business we have suffered vehicle break ins more than once, sadly. Last time during an over night hotel stay at a large national chain. My experience then led me to change how we do business. I will give my tips and things we do below but firstly I want to draw down on the terrible response/reaction I and other tradespeople experience when we are victims of this crime.

The CCTV at the hotel was not working, the entry barrier also not working, we had paid for the privilege to park and the police had a form to complete for a crime number and then case closed. Nothing in terms of investigation and how on earth can a large national chain with a hotel at Heathrow airport have the CCTV and barriers out of action?

You can see the damage caused on the last break in and I find it stunning how poor the load area security on vans is. It should not be possible to peel back a thin area of steel and release the locking mechanism. Van manufacturers can and should be doing lots more to make this more difficult. Before anyone asks, we do not fit dead locks or such as the damage to the vehicle just ends up worse as they still know the weak spots to attack in those. We have had the bills from that approach in the past.

The method we now take is to off load tools via our Milwaukee Packout systems both into work sites and over night into safe storage, which sadly sometimes includes hotel rooms.

I am not sure what the answer is, but insurance is a nonstarter now as the premiums make it uneconomical. You can see my initial reaction here:

My tips are to check the CCTV is working at over night parking, off load what you can, don’t mark vehicles (we no longer use sign writing), use van vaults for times you can not take everything of value off the van, keep the cab clear of any signs of what might be inside, choose parking that is well lit and in areas of high traffic/eyeballs.

I very much hope the government act to give police more powers to deal with this and have effective prosecutions in the cases of people being caught.

The effects are more than just the theft, we had a van broken into on my own drive and now every noise in the night has me checking the windows/cctv to see if it is happening again. It can totally destroy a micro business and that simply should not be a thing imho.

In happier news The Renewables podcast has kicked into place now, hosted by myself and Sam Featherstone from Oval Renewables we have had a number of guests. Including most recently Installer’ss own Lucy Dixon, you can check out that episode and the more recent one with the IET on the link below:

We are trying to build a resource that is helpful to the entire renewables space, from installers, consumers, brands and industry bodies. It is a lot of fun to take part and next up we have episodes out with NAPIT.

Finally, for anyone not aware it is Installer Show June 25th to June 27th 2024 in the next few weeks! I am so excited to be taking part in the entire event and it would be great to see you as well! Use the link below and get registered for what is going to be an awesome show!

InstallerSHOW 2024 – Registration

Lucy explains the show in full here:

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