Stamp Out Tool Theft

The theft of construction tools has become an increasingly widespread criminal problem in the United States, so much so that stolen tools have become a major hotbed for organized crime. Some experts rate the annual cost of job-site theft, which includes materials other than tools, at about $400 million! Tool theft eats away at a companys profit margin, and it strikes right at the core of a trade worker. Using these tools is how skilled workers demonstrate their value and talent. Losing one hurts. 

In 2019, thieves were caught on camera stealing everything from chainsaws to vacuum cleaners to random orbital sanders from depot or homeware stores and private residences across the country, prompting job sites and stores to reconsider their security measures. 

Given that the construction tools market is expected to garner intense growth through 2025, it makes sense that tools are the next big thing in terms of items of perceived value, overtaking liquor, electronics and jewelry as coveted items for theft. But when did this shift begin? And why are thieves not setting their sights on higher value goods? Experts speculate that thieves simply believe authorities wont care enough to investigate lower value items, whereas serious resources would be invested into a jewelry or bank robbery. 

This kind of theft isn’t being seen in the U.S. alone: police investigated a burglary at the Aspen Lodge Caravan Park in Mooroopna, Australia, where thousands of dollar’s worth of power tools and chainsaws were stolen, including Stihl, Milwaukee, Makita, and Ryobi rechargeable tools often paired with the Malco TurboShear HD and Freund SeamerPro. 

In the United Kingdom a van is broken into, and its tools are stolen every 23 minutes! A recent investigation of a string of tool theft concluded a mystery skeleton key” was to blame for a number of van burglaries in the region. In October 2019, over just one weekend, 40 vehicles were targeted by thieves who drilled into van doors and windows to gain access. This particular kind of theft has risen in the UK by nearly two-thirds in the past two years. 

It’s clear that tool theft is increasingly becoming an issue within the industry, but is there a way to deter theft? Security experts have identified a few basic techniques roofers and other construction professionals should use to protect tools from theft or loss, to include: 

  1. Paint or engrave your tools 
  2. Keep them in a lock box 
  3. Install job-site security cameras 
  4. Remove the batteries or chargers 
  5. Take them home 
  6. Install fences to limit access to the site

RapidMaterials polled 25 customers to gain insight into how roofing professionals are preventing tool theft on their job sites. 

While these items are great basic deterrents of tool theft, there are two more tips that can significantly cut down on tool theft and take advantage of modern technologies. 

Create a Process

The surest way to protect the investment of your tools is to create a tracking process and assign responsibility. The responsibility includes everyone from management, who has to set up the process, to the warehouse managers and site supervisors to the tradesperson using the tool. Lost or stolen tools are the responsibility of all.

Tool Manufacturer Technology 

Tool manufacturers are leaning into technology to assist with the prevention of tool theft and loss. By giving management and workers the ability to monitor and track tools more simply and effectively, they are reducing the burden of inventory management and creating new capabilities that can help recover lost tools. New digital processing technologies rely on a combination of Bluetooth technology and software apps. 

These technologies create seamless management processes between the tool crib, the job site, and the trade person. No longer do workers roam the site looking for the impact drill, interrupting everyone in their work to ask if they have seen it. Tracking tools this way means the tool is always visible. 

The effects of tool theft can be incredibly damaging, but with these tips you can better protect yourself and your business. In the event, you do experience tool theft, there are a few things you can do to recover your equipment. If you see someone selling tools for a suspiciously low price, there is a great chance they might be stolen. Keep an eye out for your stolen tools this way, or you may even find someone else’s. Join local online tradesman groups where you can alert and help others find their own stolen tools. By looking out for ourselves and others, we can help put a stop unlawful and unnecessary tool theft. By looking out for ourselves and others, we can help put a stop unlawful and unnecessary tool theft. 

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