Penalties for tool thefts from vans are not strong enough, tradespeople say
Over a fifth of tradespeople (22%) have had tools stolen from their vans in the last year – with 87% saying that the penalties for these thefts are not strong enough, a study has found.
With an average of £4,300 worth of tools carried in the back of their vans – from company equipment, to hundreds of pounds' worth bought from their own pockets – tool thefts can have a “catastrophic” impact on a tradesperson's livelihood.
And 87%, of 500 tradespeople polled, who use a van, say they feel like a moving target for theft – with 35% aware of attempts to break into their vehicle over the last 12 months.
And 22% have even been approached and offered tools they believe have been stolen from other tradespeople.
Only 46% of tool theft victims are able to reclaim or find at least some of the tools they have had stolen – leaving the average tradesperson forking out over £750 each time to replace or repair these items.
To highlight the issue, insurance firm Direct Line for Business, which commissioned the study, has transformed a van into an office in a well-known spot for tradespeople in Slough, to highlight the disparity in the sentencing laws.
Tradesman Joe Shadbolt said: “The impact of theft from my van has had a catastrophic effect on my day-to-day working life.
“If my tools are stolen, I can’t work. This means I’m not earning, and if I’m not earning, I can’t pay bills or support my family properly.
“By turning my van into an office, Direct Line are shining a light on an issue that is having a fundamental impact on my livelihood.”
The study also found that 87% don’t think the ramifications for tool thieves are strong enough to truly act as a deterrent, according to the OnePoll stats.
A spokesman from Direct Line For Business, said: “Theft from vans is a major problem for tradespeople, with 35% reporting an attempted break in over the last 12 months.
“From our interviews with reformed thieves, this crime is seen as low risk with a high reward.
“Tradespeople carry high-value items in their vans, and the punishment if thieves get caught is less severe compared to, for example, theft from an office.
“When speaking with our customers, we know a van is a tradesperson’s place of work. It’s where they take their calls, it’s where they eat their lunch, it’s where they do their paperwork.
“We’re working hard to raise awareness of this issue – not just on behalf of our customers, but for every tradesperson across the UK that has, and could, fall victim to theft.”
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