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Tradesman’s tools stolen while volunteering for DIY SOS

2-minute read

Gardener Bret Bradford explains the impact tool theft has had on his business
Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling

20 February 2023

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A landscape gardener has revealed the devastating impact of having his tools stolen while volunteering for BBC show DIY SOS.

Read on to find out what happened and why more needs to be done to increase deterrents for crimes like tool theft.

A victim of tool theft 20 times with losses of over £30,000

Bret Bradford is a landscape gardener and builder from Telford in the West Midlands. He had his tools stolen while volunteering for DIY SOS to help someone suffering from cancer.

Two weeks before this, Bret lost his dad and sister to cancer in the same week.

This isn’t the first time Bret has been a victim of tool theft. He estimates that he’s had his tools stolen up to 20 times, losing in the region of £30,000.

Not only has Bret lost time and money due to tool theft, he’s also had irreplaceable family tools stolen.

Watch: tradesman reveals the impact of tool theft

In this video, produced in partnership with On The Tools, Bret discusses the constant threat of tool theft and the impact it has on both his business and family life.

'Limited deterrents means the crime will not go away'

Our research shows that nearly four in five tradespeople have experienced tool theft, at an estimated £2.8 billion cost to the industry.

The Tradespeople Against Tool Theft whitepaper, created in partnership with On The Tools, also revealed:

  • only one per cent of tradespeople’s stolen tools were recovered
  • almost two in five of tradespeople have had tools stolen from outside their home
  • tool theft costs tradespeople an average of £4,470
  • 39 per cent of tradespeople agreed that having tools stolen has had a ‘strong impact’ on their mental health

Bret said that it’s important to emphaisse the impact tool theft has on the individual.

“If the criminal can understand what people have to go through to get to this point - building the business up over 30 years - then they will understand that what they are doing can destroy everything.

“Deterrents are limited and I think the way it is handled is too soft, which means the crime will not go away. The crime is paying. We have to combat tool theft - we have to beat it and stamp it out,” he said.

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Shining a light on the true stories of those affected

Commenting on the impact of tool theft on tradespeople, UK CEO at Simply Business Alan Thomas said: “We've seen the profound impact of tool theft first-hand. Those on the receiving end are often forced to take time off work, and the financial hit and longer term repercussions on future business.

“Tradespeople, like so many other business owners across the country, continue to battle rising costs, surging energy prices, and material shortages, all while continuing their recovery from the impact of the pandemic.

“Bret's situation is a prime example of the impact that tool theft can have on both the professional and personal lives. At the very least, in the midst of a cost of living crisis, there needs to be wider recognition of the fact that tool theft is a problem for tradespeople of all types.

“At Simply Business, we're proud to partner with On The Tools to produce this white paper and reignite our campaign to Stamp Out Tool Theft. We hope that by shining a light on the scale and depth of the problem, revealing the true stories of those affected, and offering practical support for the community, we can contribute positively to change.”

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Conor Shilling

Written by

Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling is a professional writer with over 10 years’ experience across the property, small business, and insurance sectors. A trained journalist, Conor’s previous experience includes writing for several leading online property trade publications. Conor has worked at Simply Business as a Copywriter for three years, specialising in the buy-to-let market, landlords, and small business finance.

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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