Call for new legislation, following Buckingham tool thefts

Spate of tools being stolen from tradesmen's vans inspired MP to call for change in the law

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 12:10 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 12:12 pm
Builder Daniel Chick, whose van was broken into in Cornwall's Meadow car park

Buckingham's MP has called for new legislation so people selling power tools and equipment online have to include the serial numbers in the advert.

This should enable the police and victims to locate stolen items online, with a view to stopping criminals selling stolen items online.

Greg Smith called for the law change in a Ten Minute Rule Motion on Tuesday, April 27, to combat the growing problem of tool theft, which is devastating tradespeople's livelihoods.

The idea to put serial numbers on tools was suggested by a member of the public on Buckingham's Facebook forum, Buckingham What Matters to You, and passed on to Mr Smith by Buckingham councillor Jon Harvey, following a spate of tool thefts from vehicles parked in Buckingham.

Builder Daniel Chick, pictured above, from St Albans, was one of those who had his van broken into and tools stolen whilst parked in Cornwall's Meadow car park in October 2020.

More than half of builders in the UK have fallen foul of tool theft and the crime wave is wreaking havoc across the construction industry. A tradesperson’s van is broken into on average every 20 minutes in the UK. Tools are also being stolen direct from construction sites, with some builders even being attacked by thieves.

In order not to lose their livelihoods, builders having to beg and borrow whatever is available and tradespeople could also be missing out on work if they do not have the correct equipment to complete a job.

More than £83 million worth of tools have been stolen across England and Wales in the last three years, according to Direct Line for Business. This equates to £83,500 of equipment going missing every day. More than a quarter are stolen from vehicles, while a fifth are taken from private homes 10 per cent go missing from worksites or places of business, according to Direct Line.

The average value of a reported stolen tool is £385. One tradesman recently lost over £40,000 of tools and the case has yet to be resolved. Only a tiny amount are ever reunited with owners. As there is often an assumption that it will be a waste of time, van break-ins are an under-reported form of crime.

Greg Smith said: "New legislation is needed to tackle this growing crisis for tradespeople. Overnight livelihoods are being lost as tools are stolen half way through a job or even worse, at the start of a project. A worrying amount of people never get their tools back and suffer devastating setbacks to their work as a result.

"This is a particularly serious problem for the residents of Buckingham, my constituency, with thieves targeting parked vans. A staggering 84 per cent of tradespeople don’t believe enough is being done to prevent tool theft. The problem has become so large that a Parliamentary Petition was raised in 2018 with over 40,000 signatures raising the awareness. We need to take urgent action now.

"I always welcome suggestions from constituents and I am grateful for this idea which I was able to take forward and develop in order to submit a Ten Minute Rule Bill."