[P]olice in north Cumbria have launched an operation designed to tackle targeted thefts of tools.
Between August 2017 and January 2018, the estimated value of tools stolen in North Cumbria was over £100,000.
From burglaries of homes and outbuildings to thefts from work vans and building sites, tools are a common item stolen by thieves. Goods are then sold on, often for a lower price than their true value, as criminals aim to quickly profit from their crimes.
The operation launched across north Cumbria is two-fold, one aspect will see police focus operational activity on disrupting organised criminals who target tools and the second focus will be to reinforce security messages to the public to protect themselves from such thieves.
Detective Inspector Dave Cooper said: “A lot of work is already conducted across north Cumbria to ensure that building sites and tradespersons are vigilant when it comes to securing their vans and equipment. However over the past few months we have a seen a rise in the number of incidents involving vans being targeted by thieves in the hope that they contain expensive tools that they can quickly sell on.
“Tool theft is anything but a victimless crime – it not only hurts financially in terms of replacement tools, but also lost work. There has been incidents where those in a trade have turned up to jobs on a morning only to find their van is missing equipment which has been stolen through the night.
“I’d encourage tradespersons to heed our advice and consider how and where you are securing your equipment. For many being victim to such a crime is not just inconvenient but can have a severe impact on their livelihood.”
As part of the operation police are also encouraging members of the public to report information on ‘too-good-to-be-true deals’ they may come across on private-trading sites or marketplaces.
DI Cooper added: “Criminals look to swiftly sell on equipment they have stolen in order to gain money and avoid being in a position where they are caught in possession of stolen goods. Many will use online forums and marketplaces to sell tools at a reduced cash price. If you come across such a deal please consider the legitimacy of the goods as too often it is a case of it being too good to be true. If you purchase stolen tools you are handling stolen goods which is a criminal offence.
“I’d also like to encourage tradespersons to look out for each other. If you are taking up such ‘bargain deals’ you are effectively stealing from a fellow tradesperson. This then becomes a vicious circle in which you could be a victim of yourself. By contacting us with information we will be able to further add to the intelligence picture across north Cumbria and disrupt and prosecute those who steal.”
Security advice to tradespersons includes:
- If possible avoid leaving tools in a vehicle overnight and even when on a job.
- Park your van in a garage or well-lit area.
- Keep tools out of sight and locked in a secure storage container or chained to the chassis.
- Consider installing an alarm and an immobiliser.
- Mark your tools. Visible markings may deter some criminals. There are also high-tech solutions like DataTag, Smartwater or SelectDNA for marking more expensive equipment.
- Register your equipment with national property register, Immobilise. This can assist in returning any equipment that is stolen.
- Report suspicious activity.
If you would like to report such information to police please do so by contacting 101. You can also email on [email protected] or use our online reporting form by clicking here. Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.