New Research Suggests Tools Theft Every 12 Minutes in the UK

New research into the theft of tools suggests that someone steals tools every 12 minutes on average in the UK, and the total value of tools stolen in 2023 equated to £98m. Direct Line, an insurance provider, recently did some research into the true cost of tool theft, and the results were both shocking and surprising.

More Thefts, More Reports

Research conducted by Direct Line revealed a disturbing set of facts and figures. They report that 44,514 tool thefts were flagged by police in 2023 - a 5% rise from the previous year, and at least one tool theft was reported every 12 minutes.

The reports showed that tools were stolen most often from vans, with a 14% increase in 2023 from the year before. These thefts accounted for over half of all thefts, at 55%, with 24,543 reports.

Tool theft continues to rise despite more than 90% of all tradespeople taking extra precautions to secure tools and prevent them from being stolen. This includes an average retrofit cost of £600 per vehicle to install new security measures. This includes new locks, trackers and alarms.

Massive Impacts

Obviously, the cost of tool theft can be substantial. The cost of replacing tools is higher than ever, and many tradespeople will lose business because they can’t work without tools. The net result is that roughly £82m in jobs were lost in 2023.

Over half of all tool theft took place in London, with the Metropolitan Police accounting for 54% of tool theft. It is thought that over half of all thefts where a vehicle is involved took place at night, and the thefts usually occurred when the individual in question parked their vehicle in either a carpark or outside their home.

It is also worth noting that tool theft seems to be seasonal. The highest number of thefts take place after the clocks go back an hour in October, with a record 4517 thefts in that month in 2023. This is presumably due to the extra hour of nighttime on offer to conceal a theft.

Expert Opinions

Jonny McHugh is the head of small business insurance for Direct Line. He had the following to say about the situation:

“It’s alarming to see that tool theft has risen yet again. Despite tradespeople taking numerous precautions and investing in additional van security to protect their tools, brazen thieves are continuing to target them.

Tradespeople rely on their tools for their livelihoods, meaning this can have a massive financial impact if they are taken. Replacing tools is costly and takes time, and vans will often need to undergo substantial repairs following a break-in, meaning tradespeople are off the road and unable to work. The rise in these thefts means that it’s more important than ever that tradespeople take precautions to help keep their tools safe and deter thieves, as well as make sure they have the correct insurance to help deal with the consequences if a theft does occur.”