How to prevent tool theft

Breaking in to a tradesman’s van, stealing their tools, and making them unable to work again is about as low as it gets, but that doesn’t stop tradesmen up and down the country from having sleepless nights in fear that their van is next.

You read other articles about preventing tool theft and they’re usually headed with “Take the tools out of the van at night” and “make sure your van is locked” but what else can be done besides the painfully obvious?

What we must consider first is the reality that you’re never going to be 100% safe from tool theft. If a thief is determined enough then they will get through whatever measures you put in place. The aim of the game is to make your van as unattractive as possible to the thieves who are looking for a quick win.

Think about your parking

If you can park somewhere that’s well lit and has good CCTV coverage, then that makes your van a lot less appealing. Even better if you can back right up to the walls to make opening the doors a real hassle.

A common tactic for thieves is to pry open the corner or the side door and fold it down over their knee to gain entry. This is made a lot more difficult if you only have 5mm of clearance from the wall.

Internal security is just as important as external security

External security is a bit of a double-edged sword. You can get a great big lock on the outside of your van that you hope will deter the typical thief but then is a huge lock also a big neon sign saying, “Expensive Tools Inside”? It’s a bit of a balancing act but the biggest lock in the world would be pointless if they just cut through the roof and open your van like a tin of sardines as they have done below.

Fight Tool Theft

So now the thief has bypassed your lock and clever parking, he’s peeled open your van, and he can now jump down and help himself to your bread and butter. Or can he?

He’s now in your van and surrounded a few hand tools, maybe some cable, and possibly a half-eaten sandwich but your lovely new set of power tools from ITS are tucked away safely in a Van Vault.

The Van Vault 2 is made from 2mm thick sheet steel and covered in fully phosphated anti-corrosion protection. It also features a 70mm disc lock designed to resist picking and even drilling.

A quick smash and grab has now turned into an ordeal for our Bob Burglar so he’s much more likely to run for the hills than make all that noise trying to get into your Van Vault.

Yes, you still have the headache of repairing a roof, but I would sooner deal with that than pay out for a new set of tools.

Peak Thievery Times

Tool theft seems to be rampant around Christmas time when many households are getting work done and service vans packed with expensive tools trundle up and down our roads looking like a thief’s pension – and the shorter daylight hours give thieves more time to do their dirty work and get out before they’re seen.

Simply Business reports that most break-ins occur on a Monday as well so its worth being aware of when your livelihood is most at risk and when you need to triple check your locks before you nip into the café.

Mark your tools

Everybody knows this tip but hardly anybody actually does it. We’re not talking about a little initial by the battery port but a big black marker stencilling your name into the side or even a Dremel tool to grind your name in is even better!

A lot of people have taken to spray painting their tools all sorts of garish and lurid colours and designs by using a combination paint and tape. A light fingered chancer is much less likely to wander off with a drill that looks like a panto prop.

It may not look especially pretty but it will make your tools a whole lot less appealing to prospective punters down the pub and will help the Police repatriate your tools if they are ever recovered.

Sort out your serials

We get a lot of calls from desperate tradesmen who have just lost their tools asking if we keep a record of their serial numbers but, unfortunately, we simply do not have the means to store the serial numbers of every tool that leaves our warehouse.

The first thing you should be doing when DPD has dropped off your new kit is registering for your 3-year warranty if applicable and keeping a log of the serial numbers of your tools.

You can then head over to and register your tools there as well. If you register with immobilise and your tools go missing, they will alert the second-hand trade and make the details available to Police nationwide. It’s really worth doing and will only take a few minutes of your time today to save weeks of headaches tomorrow should the worst happen.

Smarten up your kit

Wouldn’t it be great if you could pick up your mobile and see exactly where your tools are and what they’re doing? Good news, you can! Milwaukee and DeWalt have come out with their smart tool range called One-Key and ToolConnect respectively.

Both systems offer a wide range of user benefits but, as this is an article focusing on preventing tool theft, lets look at how they can secure your tools.

One-Key and ToolConnect both give you the ability to track your tools using their mobile app. You’ll be able to track your tools wherever they go as they use other local One-Key and ToolConnect apps to send you their location. Almost like a connected web of users across the country all helping each other out.

Both apps will also allow you to send an instruction to your tools telling them to shut down completely. This means that the tool will never work again until you tell it to and its very difficult to sell a drill shaped paperweight.

DeWalt and Milwaukee haven’t stopped there though. With Milwaukee’s Tick and DeWalt’s Tag accessories you can track anything you want! Simply place the Tag/Tick in your van, Van Vault, or lunch box and you’ll know exactly where it is at all time.

Don’t fancy upgrading your tools just yet? You can get adaptors to make your current Milwaukee or DeWalt gear compatible with the apps, so you can save a pretty penny, but you can’t really put a price on peace of mind now can you?

Cover Yourself

Let’s say the worst does happen and your tools have gone unwillingly to a new home, now what do you do? Ideally your insurance provider will say “Yep, no problem. We’ll have the money in you account by this afternoon and you can treat yourself to a supermarket sweep at your nearest ITS store”.  But the reality is usually a lot different.

We hear all sorts of horror stories about insurance firms not paying out. One that stands out to me in particular is when we took a call from a chap who said his insurance wouldn’t pay out for his stolen tools because his van was parked on his drive when the tools were taken. How crazy is that?

This was quite a few years ago though and the new breed of “friendly” insurers are out there who offer tool only cover which can make the absolute world of difference.

However, even the best insurer in the world will hesitate to pay out if you do not have proof of purchases for your items. Luckily, here at ITS we keep your invoices on record for you so, providing you purchased your bits from us, you can call our team and have your entire purchase history emailed to you in minutes! It just makes sense.

This article is in no way all encompassing and thieves are always coming up with new ways to steal your livelihood, but an ounce of common sense and a sprinkle of forward planning will make you much less of a target.

Feel free to call our team on 0208 532 5000, send a message to [email protected], or even just leave a comment below if you need advice on how to keep your bread and butter safe. We’re always happy to help!

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