Tips to help tradies thwart tool thieves

By Chris Dougherty, General Manager, Westlawn Insurance
25 November 2015

Thefts targeting tools and building materials have been widely reported in the media over the past few months. According to reports, construction sites and utes have been particularly targeted by thieves.

On 15 September, The Daily Telegraph reported police were warning tradespeople in Sydney’s northwest to lock up and secure their tools in their utes following a number of thefts in that area.

“In one incident up to $2,700 worth of drills, nail gun and hammer drill equipment were stolen from the back of a ute parked and secured along Trinity Ave in Kellyville sometime between 6.30pm on Friday and 8am on Saturday,” the Telegraph reported.

“In another incident, up to $3,270 worth of drills, nail guns, batteries, chargers and saws were stolen from the back of a ute parked and secured in Kellyville between 9pm on Friday and 10am on Saturday. A police report said in both instances an unknown person had managed to gain access to the locked toolbox on the back of the ute by breaking the padlock.”

And in a separate incident nearby, thieves cut a padlock chain to enter a construction site and steal tools and air conditioning equipment valued at up to $15,000. The site is to become the new home of the Riverstone Police headquarters.

Police in Brisbane are cracking down on construction site thieves reported the Courier Mail on 11 September. Recent thefts of tools and equipment including extension leads, copper pipes, white goods and temporary fencing had cost builders thousands of dollars to replace.

Further north in Caboolture, Shayne Melton lost $5,000 worth of equipment after his air conditioning business was targeted 3 times in 10 days.

“I had to postpone a week’s work because I had no tools to work with,” he told the Courier Mail.

Tips to prevent tool thefts

Below are some simple steps you can take to help prevent the theft of your valuable tools, machinery and building materials.

Mark your tools

Portable machinery and tools can easily be stolen from work sites or from your vehicle. Clearly mark or engrave your tools with your identification details to help deter thieves from taking them. But if they are stolen, identification may help police retrieve the items and bring the thieves to justice.

Police in Caboolture, for example, have launched a campaign called Don’t be a Fool, Tag your Tools offering free engraving days in which people can take their tools to be engraved with a unique code provided by police.

Similarly, DataDot technology can be used to identify your tools. DataDots are microscopic dots containing a unique serial number that can be sprayed onto your tools and machinery. Warning stickers act as a deterrent to thieves while the technology provides police with a means of identifying stolen tools and machinery. You can find out more about DataDot technology for tool kits here.

Keep an inventory of your equipment

Keep an inventory of all your tools and equipment including make, model and serial numbers. It’s a good idea to also include a photo of each item to assist with identification if stolen and later recovered by police. Keeping accurate records will also help with any insurance claims.

Security on the site

When working on a construction site, clean up and remove all tools and material before knocking off for the day. If you need to keep anything onsite, secure it with a lock that protects from cutting tools. As stated above, ensure all your equipment is clearly marked.

Keep an eye out for unusual activity around your worksite. Write down the registration numbers of any suspicious vehicles, and regularly keep in touch with neighbours.

Locking toolboxes & storage facilities

Securely locking your toolbox, vehicle or storage will help deter thieves.

    • Toolboxes – use a heavy-duty toolbox with a quality padlock or locking system.
    • Storage facilities – lock tools away in a storage facility fitted with a security system and sensor lights.
    • Smartphones – switch on the tracking feature so if stolen, you can remotely track your phone and delete any data stored on it.

Vehicle security

    • When leaving your vehicle overnight, park in a garage if possible. If you don’t have a garage, park in your driveway rather than on the street. Avoid parking in dark, unlit or isolated areas.
    • Always lock your vehicle when unattended, even on work sites.
    • Secure tools left in vehicles with visible locks. For utes or tray tops, use a bolted-down, lockable toolbox.

Tradies & builders insurance

Taking these precautions can help prevent costly thefts of your tools and building materials, but it’s impossible to completely stop all thefts from occurring. That’s why, it’s so important to be fully covered with the right insurance.

A Westlawn Insurance Broker can help ensure you and your business are properly protected with insurance policies for tradies and builders covering:

    • Contract works
    • Home warranty insurance
    • Equipment & tools
    • Business interruption
    • Management liability
    • Commercial vehicles, and
    • Public liability.

Tailored packages at competitive rates

With our specialist expertise and access to policies from leading and specialist insurers, we can tailor a comprehensive insurance package to suit all tradies and builders.

Contact a Westlawn Insurance Broker

To learn more, contact Westlawn Insurance Brokers today.

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