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51% of builders are victims of tool theft, study shows

Find out how you can prevent your equipment being stolen and take part in our poll.

More than half of builders in the UK have had their tools stolen, according to research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Hundreds of small construction businesses said their tools were stolen from vans or directly from construction sites. Some builders even reported being assaulted by would-be thieves.

Most van-theft victims said their side panel or door was broken or prised open, while nearly a quarter had windows smashed to gain entry. More than a fifth had their locks picked.

Tips to prevent theft

The most popular measures taken to prevent theft included bringing tools inside at night, installing extra locks in the van and parking against a wall, the survey found.

Other tips from the FMB include:

  • branding tools with company details
  • registering serial numbers on an online database
  • installing a basic CCTV system.

High cost for small firms

“The impact of this on the nation’s smaller building firms is particularly disruptive, “ said Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB.

“Not only is there a high cost in terms of both time and money spent replacing these expensive tools and to fix the damage caused, but without the right tools, firms are simply unable to work.”

There is currently no national database of tool theft statistics, but figures obtained by Which? Trusted Traders from Devon and Cornwall Police suggest it is an increasing problem.

Tool thefts from vehicles across the two counties rose from just 222 in 2016, to 556 this year up to the end of September. That represents an average rate of 18.5 per month in 2016 increasing to 61.8 per month in 2018.

Has tool theft affected your business? Take part in our mini survey.

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