In an ideal world, we would avoid the theft of tools altogether. Unfortunately, the construction industry has always been particularly vulnerable to thieves and the reality is that tools are extremely desirable.

Research carried out by the FMB shows more than three quarters (83%) of UK builders have been victims of tool theft. Of those who have had tools stolen in the last 10 years (78%), on average the loss cost them £2,500. Over a 40-year working life, a builder will typically lose £10,000 worth of tools.

Crime is on the rise

  • 63% of thefts occurred on site, followed by 37% from vehicles
  • 56% of claims so far this year have been for tools; and
  • The average value of a theft claim through FMB Insurance is £5,811.

*HSB Statistics 2021

For builders, loss of tools means loss of money. Many can’t afford to replace the stolen goods straight away and need to wait for a claim to be resolved to resume their work. While there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of theft in the fi rst instance, it is worth knowing how to speed up the claim process.

Proof of purchase is key when it comes to an insurance claim. The quicker you can provide proof the tools are yours, the quicker the claim can be dealt with. Here are some guidelines on what you can do to help:

  • Keep your receipts! Store them in a safe place away from your tools;
  • Compile a list of your personal equipment, including serial numbers and log the colour;
  • Take photos of your tools and mark or engrave them. You can even use products such as DNA propertymarking and UV pens, which deters thieves as it makes the tools harder to sell. It also helps you to identify them if recovered.
  • Register your tools with the Tool Watch App. The app helps to combat tool theft across the UK in partnership with local police by identifying the owners of recovered property. FMB members currently get a 20% discount on the app.
  • Always ensure any purchases made are in the name of the company you have bought the insurance through. Purchasing through a personal account, rather than your business could make the claim void.

Tips to reduce your risk of theft

  • Install anti-theft products such as an OBD port protector, immobiliser or tracker;
  • Secure your vehicles with window grills, remove items from view and, if possible, fit a tool safe in your vehicle or property; and
  • Always try to park in busy, well-lit areas, or in a garage, with the side load door and rear doors against a wall to limit access to tools.
Tool Watch App has been developed for tradespeople as a secure platform to register the tools of their trade, along with receipts, serial numbers, etc – all the information needed to make tools traceable. Comprehensive proof of ownership for insurance providers is essential to secure a quick and successful claim. It is a legal requirement to chip and insure our pets - we need to do the same for our tools and safeguard our livelihoods.”

Alan Brett, Managing Director, ToolWatch

Make sure to insure your tools. If the worst happens you then have the peace of mind that you can replace what has been taken or damaged. Tool cover can be added to other insurance policies, such as your Contract Works. Call the friendly FMB Insurance team today on 01353 652760 or visit

This article was originally published in the October / November 2021 edition of the Master Builder magazine. Members can login to view a copy, non-members can request the latest copy via email.

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