Tool theft affects four in five

More than three-quarters of Britain’s builders have been victims of tool theft, with some having lost more than £20,000 worth of tools in the past ten years, according to new research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

According to the FMB’s research into tool theft, 83% of UK builders have had their tools stolen.More than one in three incidents involved theft from vansand theft from sites, 7% of incidents saw tools stolen from a shed or garage at home, and 3% of incidents saw tools stolen from inside the home.

Of builders who had tools stolen in the past ten years (78%), the most common value of loss was £2,500. One in ten builders said that they had at least £10,000 worth of tools stolen, and 2% said they had at least £20,000.

When asked how many working days builders had lost to tool theft over the past ten years, one in three builders said one to two working days and 16% said two to five working days. Seven percent of builders said they had lost five working days or more.

Over a 40-year working life, a builder will typically lose £10,000 worth of tools and six working days to tool theft.

Tool theft is taking its toll on builders’ mental health, causing 15% of builders to suffer from anxiety, 11% to suffer from depression, and some reported experiences of panic attacks and suicidal thoughts.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The government needs to look into tool theft and consider the need for the introduction of tighter regulations around selling second-hand tools, and greater minimum fines for those convicted of tool theft.

“Builders need to take extra steps to reduce the risk of theft by bringing tools inside at night, installing extra locks in the van, marking tools with an address or phone number, and painting them a special colour.

“Builders should also check their insurance policies to see what they have covered.”