Tool theft has soared in the last 12 months, with more than a third of van drivers falling victim – up from a quarter the year before - according to a study by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.
The average value of equipment stored per van stands at £2,500, which means UK tradespeople are footing an estimated £4.4 billion bill for replacement tools every year. In additon, the study found that when tools are stolen, it stops work for six days on average, causing UK businesses to lose up to £5.2 billion annually.
An increase in the number of van drivers leaving tools in their vehicles overnight, with three-quarters admitting to doing so compared to less than half in 2020, has created more opportunity for thieves. And just half of van drivers are taking extra precautions such as additional alarms, locks, and vehicle trackers.
David Hanna, head of direct sales at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “Tool theft continues to be a huge problem and it’s worrying to see the problem spreading across the country. We’re shocked to see that cases have risen so much in the past year, as we know the impact on businesses and workers is massive.
“Hopefully, these findings will prompt those with expensive equipment to take extra precautions, whether that’s additional security features on their vans, avoiding parking in secluded, poorly-lit areas, or taking an extra 15 minutes at the end of the day to unload their vans.”
While London remains the UK’s biggest tool-theft hotspot, the rate has reduced to 47% of van drivers from 55% in the previous year. That’s in contrast to Scotland (45%), the North West (41%) and North East (40%), which have recorded huge surges in tool theft in the past year. The South East is the area where van drivers are least likely to fall victim to a break-in.
Parking in a well-lit area or in a car park with CCTV can help to reduce unwanted attention. Where this cannot be achieved or for those that have more than one vehicle, parking them defensively – where doors are blocked by another vehicle or object – can be a good deterrent, according to VW.