'You can't work for a week': Over 100 tool thefts a day, as police say it's a 'huge problem' in the industry

4 May 2023, 07:00 | Updated: 4 May 2023, 08:27

Tool thefts are a 'huge problem' for police in the UK.
Tool thefts are a 'huge problem' for police in the UK. Picture: Getty images
Henry Riley

By Henry Riley

LBC analysis has uncovered the shocking extent of tool theft across England and Wales, with over 40,000 cases in 2022. 

This accounts for at least 110 tools being stolen each day on average, according to figures from 25 of the 45 territorial police forces in the UK. 

The UK’s largest online construction community, On The Tools, has previously reported that four in five tradespeople have experienced tool theft.

This predominantly affects self-employed tradespeople, having key items stolen from their vans, garages and even homes. 

The staggering scale of the crime particularly affects London, with nearly half of all cases recorded in the capital. 

Elsewhere, Essex, West Yorkshire, the West Midlands and Gwent also reported extremely high cases last year.  

With estimates from On The Tools showing that tool theft costs the average tradesperson £4,470.50 in equipment, LBC’s analysis shows that tradespeople are potentially losing over £100 million in tools during a cost of living crisis. 

Also striking is the low-charge rate for the crime. In Derbyshire, Northumbria and West Yorkshire an estimated 2% of recorded cases result in a charge. In Merseyside and Northamptonshire it is less than 7%.  

Andy Trotter, the former Deputy Assistant Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police, labelled LBC’s figures “devastating for tradespeople”.  

He added: “The impact is enormous, particularly when people are going through a very tough time economically. It is a huge problem for the police to deal with."

Tool theft costs the average tradesperson £4,470.50 in equipment.
Tool theft costs the average tradesperson £4,470.50 in equipment. Picture: Getty images

Responding to the low charge-rate, Mr Trotter said “it’s a symptom of remarkably low detection rates across the board… the police have been denuded resources”.

Ian, a security equipment installation engineer from east London, has had his van broken into on three occasions. He said that tool theft has had a “heart-breaking” effect.

He said: “It’s not just monetary… you can’t work for a week because you haven’t got the right tools".

As a result of the crime, Ian has had to install a "tool-safe" in his van, buy extra security locks and has fitted stainless steel panels to prevent further break-ins.

In response, a spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs Council told LBC: "Tool theft often affects the victim’s ability to work and we recognise how invasive and traumatic it is to have your items stolen, or have a van broken into.  

"There are complexities in tool theft cases as there are limited forensic opportunities.

"We will continue to work hard to prevent tool theft and encourage victims to report these instances to police."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Arthur Pendragon has condemned the attack on Stonehenge

'Like targeting a cathedral': Britain's 'top druid' condemns Just Stop Oil's 'completely dismaying' Stonehenge attack

Just Stop Oil targeted Taylor Swift's jet in VIP airfield - but failed to find it

Just Stop Oil activists fail to find Taylor Swift's jet despite targeting it in VIP airfield attack

Tory candidate Laura Saunders is reportedly being investigated over the allegation.

Tory candidate being investigated over alleged election date bet is 'married to Conservative Director of Campaigns'

Prince Andrew is planning to leave the Royal Lodge to his daughters Princess Beatrice and Eugenie, according to reports.

Prince Andrew ‘plans to leave Royal Lodge home’ to daughters Princess Beatrice and Eugenie ‘after his death’


Post Office accidentally publishes the names and addresses of 555 subpostmasters wrongfully convicted in Horizon scandal

Gambling probes into two Tory candidates are a 'betrayal of trust' in Rishi Sunak, Michael Gove has said.

Gove says election bets are ‘betrayal of Prime Minister’s trust’ as second Tory candidate investigated by regulator

Michael Gove said the Conservatives would make it easier to buy housing

Michael Gove defends missed housing targets as he claims getting onto property ladder will be easier under Tories

The actress beamed as she cradled her baby bump on Wednesday evening.

Jenna Coleman reveals she’s pregnant as she debuts baby bump just months after marriage rumours

Two Just Stop Oil activists sprayed private planes at airfield hours 'after Taylor Swifts' jet arrived

Eco-protesters arrested after trying but failing to damage Taylor Swift's plane in VIP airfield stunt

The Conservative Party is campaigning across the country for the General Election.

General Election LIVE: Second Tory candidate in gambling investigation married to party's director of campaining

Watch in full: LBC's exclusive phone-in interviews with Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak

Watch in full: LBC's exclusive phone-in interviews with Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak

Here's everything we know about missing teenager Jay Slater.

Everything we know about missing British teenager Jay Slater who vanished on holiday in Tenerife

William appeared at Ascot

Prince William shares tender moment with Kate's mother as she suffers mishap at Ascot

Jay Slater's family have warned people about donating to fake pages

'I just want my baby back': Mother of missing Brit Jay Slater, 19, issues plea after 'false sighting' delays search

Keir Starmer came out on top after LBC’s two exclusive phone-ins

Keir Starmer comes out on top after LBC phone-ins – as Rishi Sunak seen as ‘overwhelmingly negative’

OceanGate co-founder Guillermo Söhnlein is pictured with CEO Stockton Rush, who died on the Titan sub

Oceangate co-founder claims he can 'safely' send 1,000 people to Venus