Van theft is a rising concern for tradeworkers, with new technologies seeing 82% of Light Commercial Vehicle stolen without keys.1 Electronic key fobs and skeleton keys are now a common and easily procured way of breaking into your vehicle. But it’s not always the van itself being targeted.

1 in 4 tradeworkers name tool theft as their primary concern when it comes to their finances.2 And with claims for tool theft up by 30%, who can blame them?3 Of course, having the right insurance and taking measures to protect your tools and your van against theft are the best ways to tackle the issue. But if the worst did happen, there are still things you can do to try and recover stolen tools.

Precautions you should take

Follow these top tips to help protect your tools, and increase chances of recovery in the event of theft:

  • Make an inventory

    Keeping an up-to-date inventory of all your tools, at home or in your office, is useful for both personal and insurance purposes. Take photos, file receipts and log the serial numbers of your tools. In the event of a theft this will help you identify what has been stolen, while helping your insurer calculate the cost of your claim.

  • Mark your tools

    This will make it a lot easier to spot your tools after they have been stolen. Use paint, permanent marker or etch an identifying feature onto your tools.

  • Arm your vehicle

    With commercial vans being broken into as often as once every 23 minutes in the UK4, it is more important than ever to take measures to arm your vehicle. When buying a van, always opt for extra security – dead locks and alarms. However, it’s important to note that with modern day keyless technologies even these might not be enough. Van safes and old fashioned deterrents like steering and handbrake locks are likely to also be most effective methods of making your vehicle a less tempting target.

  • Check your insurance

    There are lots of different types of tool insurance. Some don’t cover your tools overnight, while others will only cover your tools if they are in your house. Be sure to check the terms of your policy with your insurer or broker to make sure that you have adequate cover.

Recovering your tools

If you have taken the right precautions, recovering your stolen items may be more likely than you think. In the event of a theft, follow these steps to try and recover your tools.

  • Go through your inventory

    The first thing you need to do in the event of a theft, is to establish exactly what has been taken. Having a photographic inventory will make this a lot easier and stop you missing things off. Mark off all the items you are missing and collate the serial numbers of your stolen tools.

  • File a police report

    Before trying to track down your tools yourself, you need to file a police report. This will give you back-up if you do happen to find your tools for sale. You can report your stolen tools by calling 101 or visiting a police station in person.

  • Make an insurance claim

    Now it’s time to contact your insurer. Provide them with an itemised list of all your stolen items along with proof-of-purchase for each. This will enable them to calculate the cost of your claim.

  • Check your local pawn shops and second hand stores

    The first thing to understand about tool theft is that many thieves are lazy. They want to get rid of your stolen property as quickly as possible and they’re unlikely to travel far. It’s always worth doing the rounds of all your local second-hand stores to see if any of your stolen items have shown up on the shelves.

  • Set up an alert on Gumtree/eBay

    Use your serial number to set up alerts on Gumtree and eBay to help you track down your stolen tools. Keep a regular eye on the feed and be wary of any suspiciously low prices. If you do see any listings that you think look suspicious, it might be worth sharing these in any trade groups you are a part of, to help others track down their stolen items.

Prevention is always better than recovery. But if your security measures should fail you, it’s always best to be aware of the steps you will need to take.

If you have any concerns about your tools insurance, please get in touch.