Commercial insurer NFU Mutual’s new research has revealed that almost nine in 10 (89%) tradespeople have experienced theft as crime specialists warn that world events, including the conflict in Ukraine, are driving up demand for stolen goods.
Its study also found that over three quarters (78%) of tradespeople and contractors admit they have left machinery and tools in a vehicle overnight as six in 10 (58%) experience theft from their vehicle.
Meanwhile, over half (55%) have experienced theft of their items from a building site, as 83% say they have left portable tools and equipment on site overnight.
Tradespeople say the main impacts of these thefts include loss of income (55%) and extra costs to replace or hire new kit (43%), with over a third (34%) revealing that theft has an impact on their mental health.
Despite this, the study found that 43% of tradespeople don’t have a full list or know the value of what they own, which could make it difficult to report crimes to the police or track recovered items back to their owners.
Only 41% keep photographic evidence of their tools and just 17% video their equipment.
Zoe Knight, commercial specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “In the current climate as supply is low and demand for stolen equipment is high we are urging people to step up security.
“Tradespeople rely on their tools for their income and to keep the chain of a project on schedule. As our report findings show, the theft of equipment can have a devastating impact professionally, financially and mentally.
“It is crucial that tradespersons are fully supported should the worst happen. The cost of replacing kit and machinery has increased significantly due to supply chain issues in recent times. We are advising tradespeople to know what they own by recording serial numbers and keeping up to date with current market values.”
The study by NFU Mutual comes as the Equipment Theft (Prevention) Bill has passed through the House of Commons and is expected to be signed into law later this summer. It aims to ensure high value tools and machinery are marked, registered, and traceable if stolen, making it harder for thieves to sell stolen tools, and help re-unite them with their owners.
NFU Mutual has been a key contributor in shaping the Bill and offering insight at the consultation stage.