Tool theft: an 8 step guide to recovering stolen tools

Tool theft is spiking in the UK. These days it feels like you can barely go five minutes without hearing another story about stolen tools or a new technique thieves are using.

But what do you do if the worst happens and your tools are taken? Here are nine things you can do to help you recover stolen tools.

Prevention is better than cure

Before you’re even on the radar of thieves in your area, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent them getting hold of your tools and help recover them should they be stolen.

1. Store your tools sensibly

The harder your tools are to get to, the less likely thieves are to make off with them. It’s best to take your tools in from your van overnight, as techniques like peel and steal can leave even well-secured vans vulnerable.

2. Park for prevention

If you can’t bring your tools in overnight, or will be leaving your van unattended for a prolonged period during the day, it’s a good idea to park in a way that will prevent or deter thieves from getting to your equipment.

Parking with sliding or rear doors against a wall or sturdy fence so that they can’t be opened will help keep them safe from peel and steal, but unfortunately won’t do much good against the £20 skeleton key that’s been making the rounds.

To deter thieves, you can park in a busy, well-lit area, preferably in view of CCTV cameras. Even if someone does break into your van, you’re more likely to find a witness or get the culprit caught on camera.

3. Check your insurance

If you don’t have tools insurance as part of your insurance policy, the first thing to do is think about adding it in. It can help pay for the cost of replacing your tools should they be stolen.

Secondly, you should check your policy wording to find out exactly what’s covered, what the limits and excesses are, and if there are any conditions. For example, some insurers will require you to have certain alarms fitted in your van for tools stolen from it to be covered by the policy.

4. Mark your property

If your tools are stolen, having identification marks on them will help make sure you’re recognised as the owner if they’re found.

You can use paint or permanent marker to add your name or another identifying feature to your tools, or for something harder to remove, etch it in. If you don’t want thieves to know about the mark, you can use ultra-violent pens so that it will only show up under the right kind of light.

Joining a register such as Immobilise or SelectDNA can also help police identify your property.

Recovering tools

Even if you weren’t able to take any precautionary measures and your tools were stolen, there are still steps to take should they go missing.

5. Keep a note of serial numbers and other data

One of the first things to do is dig out all the information you have about the items that have been taken.

Providing information like serial number, or at least an itemised list with the make and model of everything taken, will help police identify your tools if they’re found as well as easing the process of making an insurance claim.

It may also be worth taking photographs of the crime scene, both for the police and your insurer.

6. File a police report

The police can’t do anything to help until you file a report with them. You can do this by dialling 101 on your phone or visiting a police station in person. Not only will this help with the recovery of your tools, but should you spot them for sale you’ll have that report to back you up.

7. Claim on your insurance

Once the police are aware, the next thing to do is begin your claims process. If you’re insured with Simply Business you can submit your claim online, by email, or on 0333 207 0560. You’ll then be given a dedicated claims handler who will guide you through the process.

Make sure you have that itemised list while claiming. You’ll need it as part of your supporting documentation.

8. Keep your eyes peeled for dodgy deals

If you see someone selling tools for a suspiciously low price, the chances are they might be stolen.

You can keep an eye out for your tools this way, or you might find someone else’s. If you’re part of a local tradesman group you can drop a notification there, to help others find their own stolen tools.

Have you ever had your tools stolen? If so, were they recovered? Tell us your story in the comments.

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