Tool theft claims rise 54% in two years

Tool theft claims rise 54% in two years

Insurance claims by tradespeople affected by tool theft have increased 54% in the last two years, according to figures released recently.

The data, released by small business insurer Simply Business, shows the average claim for stolen tools costs £1,684 while there’s also been a notable rise in the number of break-ins with no signs of damage or forced entry. 

Analysis of over 2,000 tool theft claims reveal the number of incidents jumped from 412 in 2016, to 893 in 2018, rising 54% overall and consistently increasing year-on-year. 

The research, which comes as the small business insurer launches a campaign to Stamp Out Tool Theft once and for all, shows the South West saw the most dramatic rise in incidents (81%) followed by London (67%) and the North West (63%).

The North East has the highest average claim (£2,033), closely followed by the East Anglia (£2,005) and the South West (£1,979). This figure doesn’t include loss of earnings as a result of tool theft, or replacing tools which haven’t been insured, so the real amount is likely to be much higher, estimated at over £3,000 on average.

Furthermore, the analysis revealed 87 different industries have fallen victim to tool theft in the last two years, showing just how widespread the issue has become. Across the UK, one in three (37%) tradespeople have experienced tool theft while a further 65% know someone who has.

The top five affected trades for tool theft:

  1.     Builders – 675 claims
  2.     Carpenters – 357 claims
  3.     Electricians – 258 claims
  4.     Plumbing, heating & ventilation contractors – 223 claims
  5.     Joiners – 214 claims

The figures come off the back of the small business insurer’s campaign to “Stamp Out Tool Theft’, and reflect an alarming increase in incidents of tool theft over the past two years. A large number of thefts now occur without a forced break in, where thieves use an electronic key fob to swiftly unlock keyless entry systems. This makes it much easier to steal tools, and harder to notice when they have been stolen.

Simply Business is calling on the government to implement greater fines for those convicted of tool theft, as well as tighter regulations on the selling of second-hand tools. The petition aims to secure 100,000 signatures for the measures to be debated in the House of Lords and be viewed here.

Fastest growth in incidents of tool theft:

YEAR 2016 2017 2018 Total % Increase from 2016-2018
South West England 15 59 79 153 81
London 28 64 84 176 67
North West England 36 69 98 203 63
South Central England 46 82 117 245 61
Wales 8 16 19 43 58
South East England 51 105 106 262 52
East Anglia 67 127 138 332 51
The Midlands 79 131 138 348 43
North East England 74 119 115 308 36
Scotland 12 16 18 46 33

Bea Montoya, Chief Operating Officer at Simply Business commented: “Tradespeople are the backbone of Britain, but they’re being stopped in their tracks on a daily basis due to the ongoing tool theft epidemic. Tool theft rips through the lives of thousands of tradespeople and their families every year. We’ve seen 87 different trades affected in the last two years alone, showing just how widespread the issue has become.

“Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly common to see tools being stolen without leaving any visible sign of forced entry. The rise of keyless entry has meant the way thieves operate is changing, and it’s potentially becoming easier to steal tools. Tradespeople need to take extra care to avoid tool theft, and simple measures such as removing your tools overnight, parking in view of CCTV and with doors against a wall, and marking tools and recording serial numbers, can go a long way in preventing theft. Tools insurance is a good safety net should the worst happen, but prevention should always be the priority.

Top 5 tips for preventing tool theft

  1. Park against a wall – Aim to park with sliding or rear doors against a wall or sturdy fence so it’s difficult for them to be opened. You should park in busy, well-lit areas, and preferably in view of a CCTV camera.
  2. Remove tools overnight – Nowadays, a lot of break ins can be from ‘peel and steal’ and electronic key fobs, so even well-secured vans are at risk. If you can, remove tools from your vehicle overnight to completely reduce the risk of losing them, even if an attempt is made.
  3. Mark your tools – Having identification marks on your tools (e.g. from paint or permanent marker) makes it difficult for stolen tools to be sold on. It also helps to recognise you as the owner if they’re recovered.
  4. Record serial numbers – Make a note of serial numbers, as well as the make and model of tools you own. Providing this to police in the event of them being stolen will help to identify your tools if they’re found, as well as easing the process of making an insurance claim.
  5. Make sure you’re insured – Replacing your tools is likely to be expensive. Having insurance in place, whether standalone tools insurance, or as part of your business insurance policy, can help to give you peace of mind as well as support with the sudden financial shock of tool theft. Check your policy and if you don’t already have tools insurance included, consider adding it on. You should also check your policy wording to find out exactly what’s covered, what the limits and excesses are, and if there’s any exceptions to be aware of.

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