Tradespeople hit with 30 per cent rise in tool thefts in 2016

Tradespeople across Britain have been struck with a rise in tool thefts as campaigners battle the rise in van break-ins and ‘peel and steal’ thefts.

2016 saw a 30.5 per cent rise in the number of tool thefts compared to 2015, up on the previous year-on-year increase of 28.5 per cent at the end of 2015. This is according to insurance claims data from business insurance broker Simply Business, who provide insurance to over 125,000 tradespeople nationwide.

The total value of theft claims processed by Simply Business has rocketed from £1,926,228.88 in 2015 to £2,797,169.73 in 2016, reflecting the trade community’s growing concerns over the safety of their equipment. Tools valued at an estimated £35.5 million may have been stolen across the UK in 2016, with the total costs of tool replacement, lost time and clients all adding to the toll on tradespeople.

From a sample of over 1,000 theft claims made on tool insurance policies, Simply Business discovered the average tool theft claim has also gone up by over 40 per cent in the past year, reaching £1,626 in 2016.

Winter sees a spike in tool thefts throughout the year, with October and November seeing the highest number of tool thefts, the data reveals.

Simply Business’ data also suggests that midweek is the most dangerous time for thefts, with Thursdays seeing the biggest weekly spike in thieves’ activity.

The top 10 towns and cities based on the number of total tool thefts in 2012 - 2016, are:

Areas (by number of thefts) Areas (by total claim amounts)
1. London 1. London
2. Bristol 2. Rotherham
3. Sheffield 3. Sheffield
4. Northampton 4. Northampton
5. Leicester 5. Leicester
6. Leeds 6. Bristol
7. Nottingham 7. Nottingham
8. Birmingham 8. Leeds
9. Bradford 9. Coventry
10. Manchester 10. Romford

Simply Business also found that Thursday saw the biggest weekly spike in thefts, as the below table shows.

Day Percentage of thefts
Monday 15.6%
Tuesday 16.2%
Wednesday 14.7%
Thursday 16.5%
Friday 14.7%
Saturday 11.5%
Sunday 10.7%

The rise in tool thefts shows no signs of letting up, and some regions may be hit harder than others - South Yorkshire and the East Midlands, for example, appear particularly prone to break-ins.

Fiona McSwein, Chief Customer Officer at Simply Business, explains:

“Unfortunately, tradespeople are an easy target and their vehicles are often vulnerable - even empty vehicles can be damaged, with thieves looking for expensive tools to steal.

“Whilst the main priority will always be for the police to catch the culprits, we know that it’s important for tradespeople to put preventative security measures in place, and insure their livelihoods in case the worst happens.

“We hope that by shining a light on the areas most affected, tradespeople in these areas - and indeed the rest of the UK - can consider their next steps and help tackle this growing problem.”

– ENDS –

Notes for Editors:

For more information, please contact: Sean Canty +44 20 7199 2215


Simply Business covers over 425,000 SMEs, small businesses, landlords and sole traders across the UK.

Data is taken from over 1,000 insurance claims over five calendar years (2012-2016) by a total of over 125,000 tradespeople currently holding business insurance policies with Simply Business.

About Simply Business

Simply Business is the UK’s biggest business insurance provider, specialising in public liability insurance for SMEs and landlord insurance.

Launched in 2005, Simply Business provides an online brokerage service delivering policies tailored to individual business requirements. It has a team of UK based insurance specialists and employs almost 300 people across offices in London and Northampton.

Simply Business provides insurance to more than 400,000 UK SMEs and landlords and owing to its internal underwriting capability can cover over 1,000 trade types. It has been a Sunday Times Tech Track 100 company for the past three years and was recently named in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA. Revenues have grown from £4.2 million in 2006, to £25.4 million in 2014, and the company has been named 2015 and 2016 winners of The Sunday Times’ Best Company to Work For.