Asset security

Tool Theft: How to protect your livelihood as a tradesperson

February 13, 2023

For tradespeople all over the UK, tool theft is an increasingly urgent issue that needs to be addressed. It is taking the nation by storm and destroying many in its path. According to insurer Direct Line, a tool is stolen from a tradesperson every 17 minutes in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. For too many of these people, the loss isn’t just an inconvenience, it can be a large cost to their business.
It has recently been estimated that the cost of replacement tools and equipment for UK tradespeople is around £15 million a year, with the time away from work for tradespeople costing up to £550 per day per van. With the current economic climate, this loss is causing devastating effects for many self-employed individuals.

What is Tool Theft and why is it an issue?
Tool Theft is when equipment is stolen from a tradesperson. This could be anything ranging from spanners to larger electrical equipment. Between January 2019 and April 2021, there were 32,067 thefts of powered hand tools. This is more than 10 times the number of non-powered hand tools. With these numbers on the rise, it is beginning to be an increasingly large threat to tradespeople all over the UK.

Here are some practical steps to protect your tools:

  • Do not leave equipment in your van – A study by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles revealed that more than half (57%) said they regularly leave tools in their van overnight. And despite this, 31% said that they don’t protect their vans and tools with extra alarms, secondary locks, or vehicle trackers. Therefore, putting your equipment in a protected shed, garage or storage unit overnight could make you less of a target for criminals.
  • Always lock your van – Even if you are in a quiet neighbourhood, you don’t know who is lurking. Therefore, locking your van when you are away from it can give you a layer of protection.
  • Keep an inventory – it is crucial that you are aware of what is in your van and its value. If anything is stolen you can report it accurately to your insurance company. Keeping receipts for equipment can be proof of ownership which will be important for any tool insurance claims.
  • Tool Storage – whether it’s inside a van, garage, shed or storage unit, keeping your tools out of eyesight can be an effective way of avoiding being a target. Adding locks to storage compartments can be another barrier to theft.
  • Parking – When choosing a place to park your van, it’s important to have safety in mind. Choosing to park your van in a busier, well lit area can deter criminals. It’s also worth noting, these areas are more likely to have CCTV cameras.
  • Extra security – there is an increasing number of security products being aimed at vehicles, especially work vans. Consider fitting internal CCTV with smartapp integrations so you can record and be notified of activity. Have you considered fitting an internal door to create a cage? Could you simply add additional van locks to the outside to create more barriers. There have recently been a number of van related security products appearing in mainstream news and even on Dragon’s Den! It is worth the research to find out what could be out there that might just give you more peace of mind.


There are steps that can be taken to try and both deter or hinder criminal activity and to protect equipment and livelihoods. Investing some time and money into protecting your equipment may seem like a hassle but it is likely to be worth it in the long run. Although not all theft can be stopped, you can avoid the cost of tool theft by implementing some security tactics into your routine.