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UK sees a sharp upward curve in tool theft: a crime that’s risen 54% in just 2 years

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UK sees a sharp upward curve in tool theft: a crime that’s risen 54% in just 2 years
Lauren Hellicar

Lauren Hellicar

31 October 2019

The latest figures from Simply Business reveal a 54 per cent increase in tool theft claims across the UK between 2016 and 2018.

What may be most surprising is the number of break-ins carried out without forced entry or any trace of damage. The data also reveals the average UK claim for tool theft, which stands at £1,684.

Read on for details of the worst affected areas and how thieves are swooping in undetected.

With more than 2,000 claims taken into account, the numbers show a 54 per cent rise overall, and a consistent increase year-on-year. The number of incidents rose from 412 in 2016 to 893 in 2018.

Which areas are worst affected by tool theft?

The biggest spike can be seen in the South West with an 81 per cent increase in incidents since 2016. London follows in second place at 67 per cent and the North West not far behind at 63 per cent.

Standing at an average of £2,033, the North East had the highest average claim. East Anglia is a close second (£2,005) and the South West takes third place at £1,979.

In real terms, the amount each business owner loses when they fall victim to tool theft is higher than these figures suggest. It's estimated to be over £3,000 when you include loss of earnings and the cost of replacing tools that haven't been insured.

UK tool theft totals from 2016 to 2018

201620172018Total% increase
South West England15597915381
London28648417667
North West England36699820363
South Central England468211724561
Wales816194358
South East England5110510626252
East Anglia6712713833251
The Midlands7913113834843
North East England7411911530836
Scotland1216184633

Which trades are worst affected by tool theft?

According to the data, a staggering 87 different trades have been affected by tool theft over the past two years, and it has hit some types of business worse than others.

The top 5 trades affected by tool theft

  1. Builders – 675 claims
  2. Carpenters – 357 claims
  3. Electricians – 258
  4. Plumbing, heating & ventilation contractors – 223 claims
  5. Joiners – 214 claims

A third of tradespeople have had their tools stolen (37 per cent) and two thirds know someone who has (65 per cent).

Thieves no longer need to force their way in

Unfortunately advances in technology are making it easier for thieves. These days lots of tool theft incidents don’t even involve a forced break-in.

Criminals use an electronic key fob to swiftly and silently unlock keyless entry systems, swoop in, and clear out the tools of innocent business owners. This means it’s harder (and takes longer) to notice when tools have been stolen.

Read more about how to protect your tools and your business if tool thieves strike.

Have you fallen victim to tool thieves? Let us know in the comments below.

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