With tool theft in the UK continuing to rocket, we take a look at how the recent spate of van break-ins has affected electrical professionals and offer some advice on how you can keep your valuable assets safe from potential thieves.
If you want to gauge the impact of the rising number of tool thefts in the UK all you need to do is take a quick scan of the newspaper or your favourite social media sites and you can guarantee there will be a report of another hard-working trade professional who has been the victim of a van break-in.
Earlier this year a BBC Radio 5 Live report confirmed that this kind of theft has risen by nearly two-thirds in just two years – a dramatic leap from 14,063 thefts of tools from vehicles in 2014/15 to 22,749 in the year 2016/17. What the statistics will show for the year 2017/18 is anyone’s guess, especially with current reports suggesting that a van break-in occurs every 23 minutes.
What is clear is that it’s an epidemic that’s destroying lives (and livelihoods) as trade professionals count the cost of lost days, insurance claims and the mental damage that crimes of this nature can leave behind.
So how are they doing it?
Although these organised groups could clearly just use the type of brute force required to smash a window or break open a door, they’re now starting to get cleaver in their attempts to remain inconspicuous.
One reported method is the purchase of a ‘skeleton key’ – available for as little as £20 – which enables criminals to break into popular vehicles at will. These keys do have a legal use, as a locksmith’s tool, but critics say they should be less readily available to the general public.
Others are using the ‘peel and steal’ tactic – a popular method whereby thieves grab the top of the van’s back or side doors with their fingers as they use their knees to apply pressure to the van doors. They’re then able to easily pull the top of the doors down.
What’s the cost?
Statistics from insurers Simply Business show a leap of around 30% in the number of claims made year-on-year since 2014 and the financial toll on tradesmen is only worsening, leaving many fancy bankruptcy as jobs are cancelled and customers demand their money back
To raise awareness of the issue the trade community has come together with many using social media to highlight the problems they’ve faced and put pressure on manufacturers to make their models more secure. Changes to vehicle designs can take years to come to fruition, however, so van owners must be proactive in their approach to van security if we’re to eradicate this most opportunist of crimes.