Nearly a quarter of tradespeople have had tools stolen from their van in the last 12 months | Direct Line 

Nearly a quarter of tradespeople have had tools stolen from their van in the last 12 months | Direct Line 

New research from Direct Line business insurance reveals 22 per cent of tradespeople report having tools stolen from their van in the last 12 months. It is unsurprising therefore that 87 per cent of tradespeople say they feel like a ‘moving target’ in their work vans. Theft from vans is crippling tradespeople, with more than a third (35 per cent) aware of attempts to break into their van over the same period. 

The total cost of items carried within the average work van, amounts to more than £4,300. Many tradespeople (63 per cent) spend their own hard earned cash on tools and equipment making the theft of these items devastating. A van break in can also cause extensive damage to the doors and locking system, requiring on average £750 worth of repairs to the vehicle.

Criminals have a brazen approach to shifting stolen tools, with over a fifth (22 per cent) of tradespeople reporting being offered tools they believe to have been stolen. London is a criminal hotspot when it comes to theft from vans, with 50 per cent of tradespeople aware of attempts to break into their van and a further 37 per cent reporting having tools stolen from their vehicle. Attempted thefts are also an issue in Northern Ireland with 50 per cent aware of break ins and one in four (25 per cent) of attempts successful. 

Table One: Regional breakdown of attempted van break ins to tradespeople’s vans 

Stealing tools, equipment or materials from a van is classed as theft, whereas stealing equipment from an office is classed as non-domestic burglary, a crime that receives on average twice the custodial sentence as theft from a vehicle. The majority (87 per cent) of tradespeople say that they believe the penalties for tool thieves are not strong enough. 91 per cent of the public also believe the consequences of this crime should be significant to stop the ruining of livelihoods.

To draw attention to the issue, Direct Line transformed a tradesperson’s van into an office at an industrial park in Slough, to highlight the lower penalties for theft from a van than an office.

Joe Shadbolt, a tradesman comments: “The impact of theft from my van has had a catastrophic effect on my day to day working life. If my tools are stolen, I can’t work. This means I’m not earning and if I’m not earning, I can’t pay bills or support my family properly. By turning my van into an office, Direct Line are shining a light on an issue that is having a fundamental impact on my livelihood.”  

A spokesperson from Direct Line Business Insurance, comments: “Theft from vans is a major problem for tradespeople with 35 per cent reporting an attempted break in over the last 12 months. From our interviews with reformed thieves, this crime is seen as low risk with a high reward. Tradespeople carry high value items in their vans and the punishment if thieves get caught is less severe compared to, for example, theft from an office.   

“When speaking with our customers, we know a van is a tradesperson’s place of work. It’s where they take their calls, it’s where they eat their lunch, it’s where they do their paperwork. We’re working hard to raise awareness of this issue, not just on behalf of our customers, but for every tradesperson across the UK that has and could fall victim to theft.” 

To find out more about how tool theft is affecting tradespeople in the UK including tips on what you can do if you have been affected, click here 

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