A tool theft epidemic is making life very difficult for the country’s tradespeople. Aside from signing the #noVANber petition, what else can you do to protect your livelihood? Wasim Bux from insurance broker iGO4 has essential advice.
Having access to the right tools at the right time is vital for getting a job done efficiently. But this usually means transporting your gear from job to job or to and from a work site, which can leave them vulnerable to theft from your van.
This is no small problem either: instances of tool theft from commercial vehicles in the UK have soared by 15 per cent in the last three years, with 64,000 cases reported to police since April 2015, according to data obtained by Volkswagen.
As a result, it’s becoming more important than ever to ensure your equipment is as secure as possible. To help you out, I’ve put together some tips to help keep your tools safe from theft, allowing you to get to work with peace of mind.
Remove tools from your vehicle overnight
Most thieves operate at night, so you can negate the issue of tool theft by removing any equipment before you leave your van overnight. Though this may not always be possible if you have lots of heavy tools or you’re parked on-site for a job, it really is the simplest solution to the issue. You may even reduce the possibility of a break in by displaying a notice that says: ‘tools not stored in van overnight’, although of course this isn’t always a deterrent and empty vans still get broken into and damaged.
Ensure you have a secure place to park
Your choice of parking space is probably the most important decision you’ll make when trying to prevent tool theft. If you park out in the street where there is no added protection, your vehicle is a much more vulnerable target than one that’s parked in a locked garage or yard, on a driveway, or within view of your own CCTV cameras.
If it’s simply not possible to leave your van in one of these more secure locations, you can still make it a less appealing target for thieves. Try to park with your rear or side doors in close proximity to a wall or railings to limit access to the easiest route of access for thieves. You should also look for areas that are busier and have plenty of CCTV cameras, even if they belong to local businesses.
Make use of physical deterrents to put thieves off
Another way of protecting your tools is by investing in physical deterrents that will both make your gear more secure and put thieves off altogether.
If it’s possible, install extra features to your van that are clearly visible to anyone passing by. There are specialist locks that can be installed to points of access on your vehicle that clearly send the message that your van is well protected, so this could be a worthwhile upgrade to your security. A lock box for any tools that you keep inside can also be a valuable addition, as it adds an extra obstacle to anyone trying to take your tools, even if your vehicle is compromised. It may be the case that an opportunistic thief who’s short on time gives up when confronted with another lock to break.
Check your tools are covered
As a tradesperson, it’s important that you check that your tools are covered by your insurance in the event of a break in. Take the time to look at your policy and check whether cover for your equipment is included in the wording. In many cases, this cover may only be provided as an add-on by your insurance provider.
Even if it does cost extra, it’s really worth considering — especially if you have expensive gear in your van on a regular basis. With tool theft on the rise, you might just be glad you put this extra cover in place. It’s also worth noting that cover for your tools may come with exclusions, such as requiring you to park in a locked garage or driveway overnight, so it’s important that you check and follow these to ensure you’re covered should the worst happen.
Know which tools you own
As a precautionary measure, it pays to know exactly what tools you’re keeping in your van at all times, and the best way to do this is by keeping a detailed inventory. Try to list as much information about your equipment as possible, including brands, model names, and serial numbers.
Not only will this ensure that you will always be able to check if something’s missing, but it will also assist the police in tracking down stolen items, as well as proving useful when filing an insurance claim. You may also wish to mark your tools with a unique identifier that will help them stand out should they get stolen. It’s also worth keeping receipts for your tools, so that you can provide proof of purchase when needed in the event of a claim.
Keep this advice in mind when you’re storing equipment in your vehicle. As a result, your gear will be much more secure, and you’ll be better placed to deal with any instances of tool theft.
And if you haven’t already, please do sign the #noVANber petition, which is calling for action to be taken on tool and van theft.