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Tool Theft in London - The worst areas in 2022

Rhino Trade Insurance 08 June 2023

Prepare to get angry! Did you know that compared to all other cases of tool theft, cases involving theft from trade business vans are twenty times less likely to result in a penalty or prosecution? 

According to data from the Metropolitan Police, more tools were taken in London during 2021 and 2022 than between 2019 and 2020 (21,445). Even while up to 4 out of 5 tradesmen and women have encountered tool theft, just 0.3% of all incidents (3 out of 1000) resulted in a suspect being charged.

Today, we will explore the report in more detail and share ways to prevent your tools from being stolen. 

What is causing tool theft to spike?

The Metropolitan Police was the subject of a Freedom of Information submission that led to the compilation of the Tool Theft in London 2022 report by London firm Herts Tools. The information reveals the effects of tool theft in London, the industries most affected, and the common tool types targeted.

Remember, the report may focus on London but tool theft is on the increase all over the UK.

Theft in general is on the rise as people's living expenses continue to increase and people become more and more desperate to make quick and ready cash. The cost of living problem is causing nearly four out of five tradespeople, according to recent research, to experience tool theft. Industry losses are estimated at £2.8 billion as a result of this. Between January 2021 and October 2021, 34,712 tools were stolen in London alone. From January 2019 to December 2020, a longer frame of time, the number was much lower at 21,445. Thus, a staggering 62% rise was seen in 2021/22.

Where were the main hotspots for theft in London?

Which parts of London are most vulnerable to tool theft? Herts Tools found (with help from the Metropolitan Police) the most common tools stolen, the boroughs most affected, and the amount of tool thefts reported in each individual borough.

Data from almost two years (January 2021 to October 2022) was evaluated to determine which London borough had been most negatively impacted by tool theft. With a total of 2,081 crimes, Barnet had the most reported during the time period mentioned, with Enfield (1,794) second, Newham (1,761) third, Brent (1,367) fourth, and Waltham Forest (1,318) finishing the top five.

With an overall 1,917 incidents in 2019–21, Barnet, which had previously led the list of reported tool theft, is interesting. This popular crime wave has increased by 8% in the borough. In the most recent assessment, Enfield was likewise identified as the second-most affected borough.

Read our post on how best to prevent tool theft here.

What about the 'safest' places in London

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the five boroughs in south and south-west London recorded the fewest thefts:

  • 1) Kensington and Chelsea (333)
  • 2) Kingston upon Thames (385)
  • 3) Richmond upon Thames (416)
  • 4) Sutton (417)
  • 5) Merton (490)

One of the least affected boroughs, according to the prior review, was Hammersmith & Fulham. However, compared to the 371 cases it recorded in 2019–20, 589 events were reported in 2021–2022, a rise of 58% in just the last two years. 

The most recent statistics show that tool theft has increased in 70% of all London boroughs. Camden reported a growth of 188% over the previous two years, or 88% more in 2022 than in 2021 within the same time period. Sutton saw the biggest drop in tool theft in 2022 when compared to the same period in 2021, with a 24% decrease.

The most common stolen tools

Powerful hand tools continued to be the most popular target for thieves in 2021 and 2022, with 22,005 being taken. When compared to conventional hand tools and equipment (5,641), there have been nearly four times as many thefts, which account for seven out of ten stolen items. 

Thefts of non-powered hand tools came in second with 1,683 thefts, followed by building supplies (414), garden equipment and tools (1,137), steps, ladders and trestles (295).

A further third of all stolen tools in 2021 and 2022 included thefts from vans and other vehicles. In 2022, 6,468 tools were taken from vehicles, up from 5,257 in 2021, or nearly a quarter more. Incredibly, from the beginning of 2021 to October 2022, there were roughly ten times as many thefts of tools from vehicles as there were thefts from construction sites.

The trades that suffered the most theft

Builders reported 290 incidents of tool theft from vehicles and construction sites between January 2021 and October 2022, making them the victims of tool theft who suffer the most. Tool theft is nearly five times more common among builders than among electricians, who recorded 60 cases during the same time period. 

Engineers (45), Plumbers (30), Carpenters (29) and Gardeners (18) were the next most affected trade professions. 

The best ways to prevent tool theft

  • Always lock the doors of your van when it's not in use to deter opportunistic burglars.
  • Use stickers that warn potential thieves about alarms, safes, and other security measures that should be placed on your van
  • Park in a busy place in full view of cameras
  • Install a van alarm
  • Identify tools by adding your name and area code
  • To thwart criminals and aid in recovery in the event that something is stolen, use identification tags or chips
  • Use vivid paint to make them stand out, easily identifiable and make them less alluring to thieves
  • Purchase a sufficient level of Tool Insurance cover with Rhino Trade Insurance

Why Choose Rhino Trade Insurance?

Our team of skilled trade insurance specialists can provide unmatched expertise and experience as an insurer with a focus solely on the trades. We tailor our insurance to your business's demands, and we're continually looking for the most efficient ways to maintain both our cheap rates and the high calibre of our coverage.

Call Rhino Trade Insurance for more info on Tool cover and more at 0116 243 7904, or visit our website to use our convenient online quote tool for a price in just 60 seconds. 


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