The survey of 150 tradespeople found that they are using these online channels to warn each other about suspicious sellers, as well as educate themselves on criminal and suspicious activity in their area.

It also revealed that only a small number of tradespeople are taking additional steps to help minimise the effects of tool theft, such as keeping their insurance up to date and engraving or marking their tools to make it harder to resell them and make it easier to recognise the owner if the items are recovered. This suggests that many could do more to reduce the risk of loss or theft.

Actions to minimise the effects of tool theft – Direct Line business insurance, 2022

Action Percentage of tradespeople who said they had done it
Keeping insurance up to date 25%
Engraving the tools or using invisible ink to mark them with their details 23%
Keeping up-to-date information about tools, including photographs, serial numbers and identifying marks 22%
Always bringing tools indoors in a securely locked building 19%
Using tracking devices/tags 18%
Registered the most expensive tools on the National Property Register 16%

The same applies to securing vans. Only small numbers of tradespeople have taken additional steps to protect their vehicles, such as fitting steering wheel locks (27%) and installing a CCTV or alarm system (24%).

Actions tradespeople take to secure their vans – Direct Line business insurance, 2022

Action Percentage of tradespeople who said they had done it
Fitting a steering wheel lock 27%
Installing CCTV or alarm system 24%
Storing tools in a secure locker safely within the van 21%
Thinking carefully about where they park 21%
Putting warning stickers on the van in clear view 20%
Adding deadlock bolts to doors 20%
Using security chains on tools 18%
Installing a tracker on the van 18%


Tradespeople also leave their tools in their vehicles regularly. 27% said they did this all the time or frequently, while nearly four in 10 (37%) said they sometimes did this. Concerningly, nearly four in 10 (38%) who do this said they do not have any insurance in place that would cover them in the event of overnight tool theft from their vans.

When buying goods on the second-hand market, nearly four in 10 tradespeople question whether the price 'feels right' or is suspiciously low before buying the product, while nearly a third (30%) actively assess the seller’s level of knowledge about the tool.

Worryingly, however, only a small number said that they take steps such as checking for engravings or personal markings (26%), looking for serial numbers on online stolen registers (24%) and considering whether the seller seems eager to sell quickly (24%).

Alison Traboulsi, Product Manager at Direct Line business insurance, commented: “Sadly, tool theft continues to be a real threat to tradespeople across the UK. It is great to see that many are using social media to stay informed about tool theft in their area and warn each other about suspicious sellers and other criminal activity.

“However, our research also reveals that many could take extra precautions to help protect their equipment and reduce the impact of tool theft, such as removing tools from vans overnight, parking in safer locations and having the correct insurance in place.

“We offer tradespeople a range of products and services to help cover them in the event of loss or theft. Our comprehensive van cover comes with £500 tools and equipment cover as standard and we offer tradespeople a range of flexible insurance cover options allowing them to build a policy covering their specific insurance needs, whether that’s cover for during the day at work or tools locked in a van overnight.”