Best Ways for Roofers to Avoid Van Thefts

VAN THEFTS are on the rise and the latest statistics show an almost 30% annual increase in the crime.

Meanwhile, more than nine in 10 tradespeople have been targeted by criminals, according to research from commercial insurer NFU Mutual.

In the last 12 months alone, 53% of those surveyed said they had experienced tool or equipment theft. Just shy of half had materials pinched, almost three in 10 had a vehicle stolen and 23% were victims of organised crime.

The statistics are creating a climate of the fear of theft and violence in the industry. In the same study, almost a third of tradespeople (29%) admit that the fear of theft and violence on their business contributes towards poor mental health.

The rising cost of living (42%), financial worries (41%), stress of the job (39%), long hours (35%) and a lack of regular work (33%) were the other factors.

Van Thefts

With almost nine in 10 tradespeople concerned about the threat of their equipment being stolen, roofers are being urged to remain vigilant. 

Zoe Knight, Commercial Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Theft of tradespeople’s tools or equipment continues to blight the industry and the fact 92% of people surveyed say they – or someone they know – have been a victim speaks volumes. Roofers rely on this equipment for their income and livelihood.

“Crime is hitting not just their pocket but, as our research shows, also having a huge and negative impact on mental health.

“To see a third of tradespeople fearing theft or violence in their day-to-day job is worrying.”

The findings are born out by a report from the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity showing calls to its helpline were up 30% in 2023.

The positive news is that construction workers are better informed about where to turn when struggling.

More than three-quarters of tradespeople were confident or fairly confident they would know where to go for support if they were struggling.

Practical Advice on Preventing Van Theft

Minimise storage of tools and equipment in vans: a robust, lockable building is preferable. Consider intruder alarms for high value equipment.
If you have to leave tools and equipment in a van, make sure it’s alarmed and, as a minimum, park against a wall so that doors cannot be opened easily.
Don’t make it easy for thieves to guess that equipment is kept inside (a van or a building) – avoid leaving items on display or leaving tools around which may assist an intruder.
Store portable items within a robust, lockable store that is fixed in place.
Restrict and control vehicular access to the work site.
Consider video security system (temporary systems and temporary intruder alarm systems are available for site use).
Security mark your tools and equipment (eg forensic, engraving or permanent marking) to deter thieves and aid recovery.
Don’t stockpile high value materials such as lead and copper or leave them around for longer than necessary.
For construction vehicles use CESAR marking, tracking and immobilisation to prevent and trace thieves.
Check all locks and security measures before leaving any site eg alarms switched on, cameras facing the right direction and security lights working.

>> Read more about theft in the news

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