“Insurance claims are limited, as it happens very frequently and the old bill simply aren’t bothered”, says Andrew who had his van and his tools robbed earlier this year.
Power tools are the most commonly stolen type of tool in Kent, and the market for tools itself is worth millions of pounds.
Of course the loss of one’s tools impact on trade people financially, but in the modern world it also impacts on their mental health as well.
A recent report by the charity Mates in Mind revealed that over two-thirds of construction workers believe there is a stigma surrounding mental health which stops them from talking about it. However, the same report also uncovered that a third of construction workers suffer from severe levels of anxiety every day.
Over the last few months we’ve spoken to a variety of trades people who’ve had their tools stolen, Builders, Chippies, Sparkies, Painters, Plumbers, Surveyors, Gardeners and others. Each of them made it clear experiencing tool theft has had a ‘significant impact’’ on their mental health, and those who were self-employed made it clear it had a “substantial impact” on their mental health.
If you are a trade person and struggling with your mental health, for whatever reason, we’ve put a list of providers who can help you at the end of this post. Please, please do contact them.
“The first time I had my tools stolen”, says Dom (not his real name) “was in the early noughties. I called the police and they actually came round to take swabs and try and get fingerprints. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find them, and the case was closed but they showed presence. So, because of that I felt in a good place with it. Luckily I had the support of my mum and dad and they helped me out with money to get some more tools.
When it happened again – May 2022 – it was outside my own house. I live in a rural area of the district and vehicle theft isn’t heard of round here – so it felt really weird that my van was targeted.
This time around the police just said, ‘we’ve closed the case, we’ve got no information for you’. They weren’t interested. I’ve got half decent CCTV around my house, so I got some really clear images of the car, its reg, plus the thieves’ full face and body. I just felt so demoralised that someone had got in my van and pinched my stuff, and nothing was done. I was pissed off and down too, but had no one- to talk to about how the tool theft was getting me down.”
Dom isn’t alone.
Theresa (not her real name) is a self employed painter. Her first experience of tool theft was back in August 2022. She had her van broken into.
I’d parked up outside my house and grabbed a quick bit of scram before I headed on back to the job. They nicked the lot, the van, and all my tools, brushes, paint and other stuff. If I said I was pissed off that’s an f***ing understatement. If I ever catch up with them, well they’ll be losing their crown jewels if they happen to be blokes.
Theresa isn’t rich. She gets by on about £26,000 – £28,000 a year.
“It’s like Dickens says we are in Hard Times and ‘e opens the book with “Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts” and I gave the Police, the facts, but little good it did me as they never came to visit me. They ain’t interested. It meant I had to take out a loan for a new van, alright second hand, and new painting gear, just as those Westminster prats are driving up my cost of living.
Andrew (not his real name) had about £5,000 worth of tools stolen in early Sept 2022, he says via a Video call:
“The problem requires the police to be more interested. I have all the gear and plenty of idea on how to use my HD CCTV system on my house, as I fit it for a living. I’m bloody cautious just ask the wife. I shared the CCTV footage with the old bill and even shared my Iphone’s location which got stolen with the tools, when Find My iPhone pinged it over. I
gave the old bill bloody decent footage and felt I might get a result. Then they told me they couldn’t do anything. They just weren’t interested. It made me feel horrific.”
Andrew says he’s lucky though as he’s not self-employed,
I have a decent boss who helped me out a lot, and replaced my tools.
We’ve no idea how many tradesmen and women have had there tools stolen across our district, or even Kent. Any picture from an FoI from Kent Police would not give us the bigger picture. What we do know from the tradespeople we’ve spoke to is every trade now carries five or six figures sums worth of tools with them. And it would appear from a straw poll we undertook, that it’s chippies (carpenters) who have their tools stolen more often than any other trade. Perhaps it’s because of the specialised equipment which comes with a hefty price tag.
Theresa has her theories on how some of these f***ers sell the stolen tools.
“I’d give a kidney for free if stolen tools are not on Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, eBay, and in car boot sales. Yeah they all have policies which say they won’t allow stolen goods to be stolen across their platforms, but it goes on. Thieves will ship them to their “mate” and their “mate” will off load the tools out of the area – these are all theories, I stress.”
If your in a trade and been affected by tool theft, do drop us line, telling us when and where it happened, what the value of the loss was, and what impact it had on you and your mental health. All emails will be treated in the strictest of confidence email@example.com
If you are tradesperson struggling with your mental health due to tool theft or other issues, please speak to a professional, or contact one of these charities;
Samaritans – 116 123 (freephone) – https://www.samaritans.org/ Samaritans are open 24/7 for anyone who needs to talk.
The Shepway Vox Team
Not listening to hear, BUT listening to understand