Just 0.3% of tool thefts in the last 2 years have resulted in a charge, new police data reveals

Tool theft from vehicles is 20 times less likely to result in a charge compared to all other tool theft cases

Metropolitan Police data has revealed that 34,712 tools were stolen in London from 2021 to 2022 compared to 21,445 tools from 2019 to 2020.

While as many as four in five tradespeople have experienced tool theft, just 0.3% of all cases (3 cases per 1000) ended in a charge for the suspect. 

In over 86% of the tool thefts reported between 2021 and 2022, a suspect was never identified. In addition, there were three times as many cases where a suspect was known but not charged than there were charges. 

The Tool Theft in London 2022 report, collated by London telehandler hire specialists Herts Tools, comes from a freedom of information request to the Metropolitan Police. The data reveals the impact of tool theft in London, the most affected industries and the types of tools that are targeted most often. 

While tool theft from a vehicle has increased by 25% in the last year – accounting for a third of all tool thefts recorded in 2021 and 2022 – a suspect is 20 times less likely to be charged for tool theft from a vehicle than they are for any other theft category.

(Image source: Herts Tools

Stefano Lobban, Director at Herts Tools, said:

“It’s disappointing to see that the tool theft epidemic is getting worse in London.

“It’s not surprising to see that high-price items such as powered hand tools are still the most sought-after by thieves. Amid the ongoing cost of living crisis, the trade for secondhand (and potentially stolen) tools is booming, tempting more people into stealing tools.

“We’re urging those across all trades to double-check they have theft security measures in place, to avoid falling victim to crime.”

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said:

“With 8 in 10 builders reporting that they have had tools stolen before, tool theft is a serious issue for Britain’s tradespeople. It’s a shame that over a 40-year working life, tradespeople 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.”

How can you recover your stolen tools? 

Report your tools as stolen, calling the police on 101 immediately.

  • Find serial numbers, makes and models for your tools.
  • Retrieve photographs of your tools.
  • Make an insurance claim, giving your provider an itemised list of missing items.
  • Use any tracking devices to locate your tools, informing police where you suspect they are, rather than retrieving them yourself.
  • Visit local pawn shops to search for the items, as well as online marketplaces like eBay.
  • Join trade groups on social media, detailing the missing items – somebody else might find them.

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About the Author: Michael O'Sullivan