Tradespeople often spend much of their working lives on the road, driving from job to job – so it goes without saying that behind every good tradesperson is a faithful vehicle and a trusty set of tools.


For many tradespeople, you can’t put a price on a reliable saw or dependable drill – making it even more frustrating in the event of a toolbox being stolen.


In 2020 alone, close to 11,300 tool thefts from vehicles were reported.


While the issue itself might feel unavoidable, there are certainly some areas of the UK where it is more common than others. Likewise, there are some steps you can take to protect your toolbox overnight or while on a job.


We spoke to police constabularies across the UK to find out which areas are the most likely to experience tool thefts.


We’ve also looked at government data to uncover how and when vehicle thefts are likely to take place, so you can best protect your trusty toolbox.

According to the survey, plumbers are applauded for their traits and are considered to be most tidy, polite, trustworthy, punctual and most likely to meet a deadline. However, plumbers are so focused on the task at hand they lack the ability to have banter with their customers – placing last in this specific category.


For electricians, although they do not take the number 1 spot for any traits, sparkys still left a great impression on customers, scoring as high as second place for meeting deadlines, trustworthiness, manners and attention to detail.


For landscapers, their greatest traits are their professionalism, attention to detail and good humour. They are, however, also voted the noisiest tradespeople along with construction workers. According to respondents, these tradespeople are notorious for playing loud music and whistling while they work.


Construction workers generated the most negative responses across most categories, finding themselves bottom of the list for politeness, punctuality, reliability and ability to meet deadlines. When asked which tradesperson asked for a lot of drinks, customers also voted construction workers as the thirstiest tradespeople.


What can you say, they love a builder’s brew!

Northumbria Tops The List As The UK’s Tool Theft Hotspot

At the top of the list is the Northern England/South-East Scotland constabulary of Northumbria with a total of 1,398 tool thefts from vehicles in 2020 alone.


This equates to over £2 million worth of tools being stolen in just one year.


Next on the list is Kent, with 1,138 reports of stolen tools. The London bordering county lost £1.6 million due to tool thefts in 2020 alone.


Gloucestershire had just 26 tool thefts reported in the whole of 2020.


This is 54 times less than the number of tool thefts reported in the number one hotspot of Northumbria.

Northumbria Tops The List As The UK’s Tool Theft Hotspot

The Most Common Tools To Be Stolen From Vehicles

According to government data, tool thefts account for one in ten vehicle break-ins in the UK. This was overtaken only by thefts of electrical equipment (13%), exterior fittings (19%) and valuables (39%).


Drills, saws, and nail guns make up the three most common tools stolen from vehicles. A total of 380 drills were reported stolen in 2020, equating to over £50,000.


Saws take the second spot, with close to 200 thefts being reported at a total cost of £1,372.


Nail guns, costing an average of £93, are the third most common item to be stolen, with 61 thefts equating to a total cost of £5,973 reported in 2020.

The Most Common Tools To Be Stolen From Vehicles

47% Of Thefts From Vehicles Caused By The Vehicle Door Not Being Locked

While tool theft might seem unavoidable, there are precautions you can take to protect your tools at a job or while stored overnight.


Government data highlights that 73% of thefts from vehicles happened during the week, rather than at the weekend. This could potentially mean that vehicle owners are a little more relaxed on weekdays about what they leave in their vehicle.


If this is you, it might be time to consider ensuring everything is out of sight every time you leave your vehicle, even if you plan on getting back in your van first thing in the morning.


Unsurprisingly, thefts from vehicles are more likely to happen after dark, with 81% of thefts taking place between 6pm and 6am.


With just 19% of thefts from vehicles happening during daylight, theft on the job is much less likely – though not impossible.


In fact, a total of 41% of thefts happened on the owner’s street, and a further 36% happened in semi-private locations such as driveways or car parks not connected to the home.


47% of thefts from vehicles were made possible because the vehicle door wasn’t locked.


That’s close to half of thefts which could have been avoided simply by the owner locking their car or van door.


19% of the time, the vehicle was entered by the offender breaking a window – meaning that items may have been left in the eyeline of offenders.


Tools not only hold monetary value, they also represent the livelihood of tradespeople and so it’s important that toolboxes are protected at all costs.


The best deterrent for theft is often added security. So it may be worth investing in extra vehicle security, or even home security such as CCTV systems to protect your vehicle when parked overnight.

47% Of Thefts From Vehicles Caused By The Vehicle Door Not Being Locked

Sources and Methodology

We sent FOI requests to police forces across the UK, asking for the total number of crimes involving the theft of tools in 2019 and 2020. Not all forces responded to our request


The following forces are included in our dataset: Northumbria; Kent; Hertfordshire; Northern Ireland; Lancashire; Cambridgeshire; Bedfordshire; Humberside; Avon and Somerset; Surrey; Lincolnshire; Dorset; Warwickshire; Gwent; Sussex; Merseyside; Dyfed Powys; Cleveland; Devon and Cornwall; Suffolk; Leicestershire; North Wales; Cumbria; Norfolk; Gloucestershire; Derbyshire.