Police report £17.5 million of tools stolen in London in 2020

Tool Theft in the capital by London boroughs.
Tool Theft in the capital by London boroughs.

A freedom of information request has revealed that almost £57,000 of tools were stolen every day in 2020 in London.

Metropolitan Police supplied data to Herts Tools revealing that tool theft has cost London tradespeople more than £38 million in the last two years, and £17.5 million in 2020 alone, with 28,338 tool thefts reported across London from 2019 up to May 2021.

Thefts were highest in the boroughs of Barnet, Enfield, Ealing, Waltham Forest and Haringey, with Barnet accounting for nearly 15% (1,917) of the total figure.

The findings also revealed that powered hand tools are 10 times more likely to be stolen than non-powered hand tools, with 32,067 taken from 2019 to 2021, compared to just 2,993 non-powered hand tools.

However, while just 1% of those powered hand tools were recovered, building materials were retrieved more than other items, but only just 4% of the time.

What’s more, despite the cost of tool theft falling (from £20.7 million in 2019 to £17.5 million in 2020), the average cost of tool theft per month, so far in 2021, remains at £1.46 million.

Commenting on the findings, Stefano Lobban, director at Herts Tools, said: “Unfortunately, thieves are often attracted to high-price items like powered hand tools. Of course, when these items are stolen, it’s even harder for tradespeople to replace them due to the high cost. 

“We just hope people take these new figures as a warning and make sure they’re vigilant.”

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, added: “With eight in 10 builders reporting that they have had tools stolen before, tool theft is a serious issue for Britain’s builders. It’s a shame that over a 40-year working life, a builder will typically lose £10,000 and six working days to tool theft. Aside from the detrimental financial impact, tool theft causes mental health issues and stress for builders.

“Builders can protect themselves by bringing tools inside at night, adding extra locks to their van and marking tools. Installing an affordable CCTV system is a further option, as well as registering tool serial numbers on an online database. Builders should also check their insurance policies to see what they have covered.”

Tackling tool theft
Van Vault has provided some advice on how to prevent tool theft. Tips include:

  • Don’t store tools in your van overnight but if you must, park in a busy area covered by CCTV.
  • Get an alarm, a lockable interior cabinet or interior deadbolts for your van.
  • Make your tools less attractive to thieves by removing brand name plates and marking them with neon spray paint.
  • Use stickers to tell thieves about security measures and act as a deterrent.