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Tool theft: tips for securing and recovering stolen tools

3-minute read

Man in welding mask welding with tools in the background
Anna Delves

Anna Delves

11 October 2022

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Tool theft is sadly an issue that continues to affect so many tradespeople in the UK. In fact a recent white paper in partnership with On The Tools reveals almost four in five tradespeople have had their tools stolen.

However there are things you can do to deter criminals and keep your property safe. Read on for tool security tips and steps to recover stolen tools if the worst happens.

Prevention is better than cure

Before thieves even think of targeting you, there are steps you can take to prevent them getting hold of your tools – and ways to help recover them if they’re stolen.

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.

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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, consider where you can park to deter thieves.

Parking with sliding or rear doors against a wall or sturdy fence can prevent thieves being able to get in, unless they have a cheap skeleton key that’s been making the rounds.

As a deterrent, 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.

Secure your van

As well as parking to deter thieves, there’s also sophisticated equipment you can get to prevent tools being stolen from your van. For example:

  • van vaults for secure storage
  • dual or single alarms
  • security chip tagging
  • display stickers showing tools are marked

Find out about our competition to give away £2,000 worth of equipment to secure your van and prevent stolen tools.

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.

Simply Business offers insurance that covers all kinds of trades, including:

Is your profession not listed? When you run a quote, you can select your trade from over 1,000 options.

Mark your tools

Security marking power tools and valuable items using a permanent tool marker helps protect them against theft. This also makes it easier for you to get them back if they’re found by police.

Mark with your name and postcode or the first three letters of your address.

You could use invisible marking with an ultraviolet pen where your marking will only show up under UV light. Other ways to mark your tools include engraving, etching, ceramic marking, and forensic marking solutions.

Forensic marking is when a liquid is sprayed on your tools to connect your DNA to your property, it can also help to link thieves to the crime. SelectaDNA and Applied DNA Sciences offer solutions for DNA tagging your property. It’s also a good idea to display a sticker in your vehicle warning that your tools are marked.

Registering serial numbers with Immobilise or SelectaDNA can also help police identify your property if it's stolen.

Recovering tools

Unfortunately, even with the best prevention tactics, your tools may still be stolen. To help you get back to work as quickly as possible, here’s some key steps to take if you’re a victim of tool theft.

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. This will also ease 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.

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.

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.

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 trades 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.

Are you protecting your tools?

As the UK's biggest business insurance provider, we know the importance of covering your tools. Why not take a look now and build a quick, tailored tool insurance quote?

Start your quote
Photograph: Виталий Сова/
Anna Delves

Written by

Anna Delves

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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