Insurance · 31 October 2017

Tool theft costing Britain’s tradespeople nearly £100m a year

The average insurance claim for stolen tools in 2016 was £1,200
The average insurance claim for stolen tools in 2016 was £1,200

Erratic cash flow, late payments and property tax rises are some of the typical roots of money worries for small business owners. For Britain’s community of self-employed tradespeople, however, tool theft is the number one financial concern.

According to the findings of a Freedom of Information request, obtained from various police constabularies by Trade Direct Insurance, stolen equipment cost UK tradespeople £94,521,600 in 2016 alone.

Further, the average insurance claim for stolen tools added up to around £1,200 – over a week’s work for the typical day rate of £210 for a tradesperson. The figure equated to 450,000 days of work for tradespeople to recover the total cost of stolen tools.

For one in four tradespeople, tool theft has become the primary concern when it came to their finances. This was followed by not having the right insurance cover for a public liability, being sued by a customer and receiving a negative review online.

A closer look at the data revealed where tradespeople were at the greatest risk of tool theft. In West Yorkshire, 18 tradespeople reported stolen tools every day last year. However, those in the East Midlands were more worried about theft than any other part of the UK.

Revealed: The best UK regions to become a tradesman

Commenting on the significant financial burden of stolen tools, Andrew Marlow, sales and service manager at Trade Direct Insurance, said tradespeople had become a target for opportunists.

“Tool theft has always been the plague of the tradesperson but it’s staggering to see the total cost of these crimes,” he said.

“There’s no doubt that tradespeople are targeted and no matter how many precautions you take it’s almost impossible to fully safeguard against becoming the latest victim.

“Tool theft is anything but a victimless crime – it not only hurts financially in terms of replacement tools, but also lost work. The data we received from various police forces was extremely disturbing, with thefts in some regions running into the multiple thousands in just one year.”

Trade Direct Insurance left some cautionary advice to protect the assets of Britain’s tradespeople

  • Make sure the doors and windows of your van are all properly locked whenever it’s left unattended – even if you’re just quickly popping into a hardware store. Thieves could be waiting outside to target your van.
  • If possible, remove the most expensive of your tools from your van overnight.
  • Make sure you’ve researched any design flaws in vans that might make it easier for a criminal to break into it.
  • Consider extra security measures for your van, like a deadlock or alarm.With tool theft leaving builders, plumbers and other tradespeople out of pocket by thousands of pounds, it’s no surprise that it’s one of their main financial concerns, especially with the number of these crimes on the rise.

Take a look back at our property protection series to build up your company’s defences:

  1. Burglary prevention
  2. Limiting risk
  3. Security alarms

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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