A co-ordinated protest by 150 tradespeople in Plymouth on 18 March with further action planned, has highlighted the increasing problem of theft of tools from vans. Responding to the action, ECIC, a specialist insurer for the contracting sector is urging contractors to use every tool in the box to defy the thieves and keep their business on track.
Ian Hollingworth, head of claims at ECIC said: “Despite the investment being made in various forms of van security, thieves are blatantly targeting contractors and tradespeople. This is often in broad daylight in the middle of busy streets.
“Peel and steal is becoming a very common method of access to a van, whereby the thieves are able to open side doors like a can of sardines. This method of entry along with jamming devices are leaving many contractors defenceless.
“However, it is vital that contractors do take all reasonable measures to protect equipment in the van. Removing tools overnight is obvious but consideration should be given to installing door alarms or internal lockable metal containers to store important or high value equipment.
ECIC’s tips to tackle the tool thieves:
Keep high value items in a locked container that is secured to the floor of the van
Remove tools from the van overnight
During the day, park the van next to a wall or fence to help prevent peel and steal and if possible in view of CCTV cameras
Make it easy to identify your property by permanently marking it or joining a register such as Immobilise or SelectDNA
Ensure you have tools insurance and choose a reputable or specialist insurer that has experience in contractor and tools cover
Keep a digital log of what you own, with serial numbers and scans of receipts – this will help speed up a claim and support police investigations
Calculate the value of all your tools and keep your insurer appraised if this changes to ensure adequate levels of cover in place to cover all equipment
Be aware of any specific warranties under the policy and ensure you comply with them
Report thefts to the police immediately and provide the crime reference number to your insurer. Take photos of the crime scene to support your claim
82% of Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) were stolen without the owner’s keys in 2017 - up by nearly 100% compared to 2016 so fitting a tracking device to the van is also worth considering
Ian Hollingworth concluded: “Theft of tools can be hugely disruptive and damaging to a contractor’s business. By taking extra measures to log and protect the tools of their trade, contractors not only improve their chances of keeping the thieves at bay, but should be in a strong position for a speedy insurance claim if the worst does happen.”