Top tips to prevent tool theft for tradespeople

Tool theft

To every tradesperson your tools are your livelihood. They’re a substantial investment and an essential requirement to carrying out work. However, their pricey value makes them a target for tool thefts which is unfortunately rapidly increasing in the UK.

It is estimated that vans are broken into every 23 minutes in the UK, with Yorkshire and the Midlands at higher levels of risk than anywhere else in the country. According to research from Direct Line for Business, more than £83 million worth of tools have been stolen across England and Wales in the last three years. This equates to £83,500 of equipment going missing every day. Despite reporting these incidences to the police, only 3% of the tools are ever reunited with owners, meaning tradespeople in the country have lost more than £80 million worth of tools.

What can tradespeople do to prevent tool theft?

Prevention is better than regret, so it’s important to act immediately to help tackle future crimes. For this reason, we’ve put together our top tips to help prevent tool theft and how to identify your tools should be they be stolen.

Empty your van

The thought of emptying your van every evening isn’t appealing. However, no matter how secure your van is, this still doesn’t stop thieves from using the ‘peel and steel’ technique. Take your tools in from your van overnight because the harder your tools are to get to, the less likely they will be stolen.

Secure your tools

If you can’t put your tools away overnight or will be leaving your van unattended during the day, it’s ideal to park in a way that will deter thieves from gaining access to your van.

Firstly, you can park with sliding or rear doors against a wall or sturdy fence which will help prevent thieves from gaining access through the ‘peel and steel’ technique.

Parking in a busy, well-lit area in view of CCTV cameras will also help to deter thieves. Plus, if you’re able to invest in CCTV for your home, this will add extra security when your van is parked overnight. Although CCTV won’t necessarily stop thieves from steeling your tools, but at least you’ll likely catch the culprit on camera.

Finally, don’t forget to secure your tools from the inside. Statistics show that thieves are more likely to grab toolboxes, so chaining them to the floor will help deter thieves.

Engrave your tools

Marking your tools not only makes them easier to identify, it also lowers the tools’ resale value. You can use permanent markers, paint or etch in information on a noticeable spot that relates to you.

You can also register your tools for free to increase the chances of your tools being returned. Visit to learn more


Ensure that your tools and equipment are insured as this can help pay the cost of replacing them if they were to be stolen. However, check your policy wording to find out exactly what’s covered and what the limits are. for example, some insurers will require you to have certain alarms fitted in your van for tools stolen from it to be covered by the policy.

Prevent van theft

Not only are your tools at risk of being stolen, your van is too. You can help prevent the risk of van theft by using a steering wheel lock.

Have you experienced tool theft and want to share your experience? Or perhaps you want to share your tips to preventing tool theft. Get in touch or comment below.

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