Claims data reveals tradesman tool theft up 30% (with Yorkshire and the Midlands most at risk)

Tool theft in the UK has rocketed by over 30 per cent in the last full year, with tradespeople in Yorkshire and the Midlands particularly at risk.

With tool theft and van break-ins becoming more and more of a problem for UK tradespeople, we looked into the last five years of our tool theft claims data to identify the areas that thieves are targeting.

Analysing millions of pounds worth of tools claims between 2012 and 2016, we found an alarming rise in both the number of thefts taking place, and in the average value of thefts.

The 30.5 per cent rise in the number of thefts, coupled with a 40 per cent growth in the average value of claims, highlights a worrying trend for the UK’s tradespeople.

2015 alone saw 28.5 per cent more tool thefts than the previous year, suggesting the problem shows no signs of letting up.

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Areas most at risk

Our analysis also uncovered where tradesmen are most at risk, with Yorkshire and the Midlands featuring prominently in the top 10 regions for most tool thefts, and overall value of thefts.

London tops the pile for each, but more surprisingly, towns and cities in the Midlands - and the East Midlands in particular - make up a large proportion of the list.

Northampton ranks in the top four for number of thefts and overall value of claims, while Leicester, Nottingham, Birmingham and Coventry also make the lists.

Yorkshire meanwhile is represented in both respects, with Sheffield ranked third in each list. Rotherham is second only to London when it comes to overall claims costs, despite being relatively small. West Yorkshire cities Bradford and Leeds have also been highlighted as tool theft hot spots, while neighbouring county Lancashire is represented by Manchester.

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

Thefts span into the millions

Some tradespeople have taken it upon themselves to fight back against the rising numbers of tool theft, and it’s no surprise - millions of pounds worth of tools are being stolen each year from the self-employed, making it difficult, or even impossible, to work.

The total value of theft claims processed by Simply Business has increased from just over £1.9 million in 2015 to almost £2.8 million in 2016, reflecting the trade community’s growing concerns over the safety of their equipment.

And this figure doesn’t account for the time it takes to replace tools, and time spent away from the usual working week, having to liaise with the police, insurers, and clients.

Thieves are also stealing more valuable equipment, with the average tool theft claim value reaching £1,626 - a 40 per cent rise from the average in 2015.

Tool theft Thursday

Interestingly, Thursday has the highest percentage of tool thefts, with the numbers dropping over the weekend.

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 percentage of claims stays roughly the same throughout the week, before dropping on Saturday and reaching its lowest point on Sunday.

Top tips for keeping your tools safe

For most tradesmen, tools are essential and working without them would be tricky. For many, tools can also be incredibly expensive and difficult to replace at the last minute.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Assess whether it’s possible to store your tools away from your vehicle. Perhaps you can remove them overnight, when van break-ins are common?
  • Try to keep your vehicle parked in a busy area, when possible, and keep all tools out of sight.
  • You should mark your tools - this could be a visible mark or by ultraviolet pen. Also consider registering them on the Immobilise register.
  • No matter what precautions you take, tool theft is a constant risk. Check your home insurance policy or consider specific tools insurance.

Have you been a victim of tool theft? Tell us your story below.

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