Tool theft from vans has risen by 15% in the last three years, according to research by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, costing businesses over £46 million.

Police forces across the UK have recorded over 64,000 cases of theft from commercial vehicles since April 2015, with a record 23,859 incidents in 2017/18.

Figures obtained by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles via a Freedom of Information request reveal the total cost of equipment stolen from vans – which includes power tools and heavy machinery – is more than £46 million over the last three years.

According to the research, September is when van drivers should be most vigilant, with over 2,000 cases recorded across the UK in September 2017 alone.

The worst area for tool theft is central London, with the Metropolitan Police recording over 8,000 cases a year, worth an average of £11 million. Northumbria (4,000 reports a year) and West Yorkshire (1,000) were second and third. Humberside police recorded the biggest rise over the three years, with incidents up by over 1,000%.

The cost of tool theft to businesses is more than just replacement equipment with drivers often unable to work while vans are restocked and locks repaired. Downtime costs companies an estimated £550 a day per van, according to Volkswagen.

Trevor Hodgson-Phillips, Head of Service and Parts at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “Today’s findings are startling, as it shows the problem is only getting worse right across the UK. Tool theft costs owner drivers and businesses millions of pounds each year in insurance claims and downtime.”