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Organised International criminal networks selling stolen Tradesmen's tools? £100,000 of tools found in Birmingham

Jeffrey Scott @ February 6, 2018 6:17 pm

Tradesmen who have been victims of the current tool theft epidemic that we are in, have been saying for a long time that it's organised gangs that are stealing from them. The news story from West Midlands Police below is proof that there are organised gangs going around breaking into vans and selling the tools through a sophisticated network.

'Officers found the Aladdin's Cave of tools and electrical items inside a shipping container at a storage facility in Curzon Street, Digbeth, on 21 November.

It's led investigators to arrest a total of 13 people - all from east Birmingham - who are suspected of being part of a burglary, vehicle theft and money laundering ring.'

See Story Picture - Inspector Andy McHugh with some of recovered items - Picture from West Midlands Police

Read the full story here

RTE in Ireland last month released a shocking news story showing just one instance involving 18 pallets of stolen UK tools that were recovered in Ireland. They also believe that the trade of stolen tools is going in both directions with tools stolen from Ireland being sold in England and tools stolen in England being sold in Ireland. Watch the full story here on the RTE player.

We have seen instances where thieves will travel from one area to another area to steel tools, the reason for this is probably very sensible that they can sell the tools in a different area from the area where they were stolen; limiting the risk of facing the owner of the tools. Of course if your tools are stolen then you will look locally at the nearby car boot fair and on local social media group sale pages  / or classified advert websites, but it's just impossible to look at all car boot fairs or markets in other towns, let alone other countries.

Of course not every van break in is done by an organised international gang or network, there would also be plenty of independent thieves acting alone or in small groups. Some of these thieves will exploit a certain van manufacturer's weak point and may have little or no particular skill set, they are simply just taking advantage of a van that is way too easy to break into. 

So if you are a tradesman or the owner of a business that has valuable tools or cargo kept inside vans, then you will be asking yourself what can you do to protect your assets? This is a very simple question, but unfortunately the answer is not a straight forward one. There are many things that you can do and some simple things could get you out of that easy picking bracket where it is just too easy to get into your van.

The advice on van security varies from one model to another and there is no one solution that fits all, but below are some general strategies that you can consider to see if some or any are appropriate for you?
  • Secure your van manufacturer's weakest point to improve the security of your existing locks
  • Add an additional layer of mechanical security to the load area of your van (Deadlocks, Slamlocks, Surface Mounted locks) 
  • Upgrade your existing alarm to have cargo area detection or add an alarm and cargo area detection (PIR, high position side door switch)
  • Add a tool safe or a more secure area within your van for your most important equipment and make sure it is appropriately bolted to the floor of your van
  • Double lock your van by pressing the remote twice when you lock it (if you have double press deadlocking, but don't do this with a VW Transporter T5 as this makes your van less secure!)
  • Find out if your model van is likely to be stolen entirely along with your tools and add security products designed to stop it from being stolen if your van is a high risk and consider a tracker
  • Remove tools / cargo if it's possible, practical and you have a safe place to store it (but be careful not to just draw attention to the tools / cargo that you have in your van for it to become more desirable to thieves) 
  • Try not to openly display the value of contents in your van while accessing tools while working
  • Mark your tools with Smartwater of a means of you being identified at the owner if they are stolen and recovered
  • Take down serial numbers of your tools and keep proof of purchase to prove that they are yours
  • Get insurance for your tools / contents incase the worst happens and read the small print! Speak with other tradesmen to find advice about what experiences they have had with insurance
  • Add a tracker to your tools or tool box

Tips on where to park your van if you have a choice

  • Choose a well lit area
  • The more people who can see it the better, if 3 houses have bedroom windows looking out to your van then there is more of a chance that someone will wake up and stop someone breaking into your van than if nobody can see it
  • Park within CCTV camera coverage
  • Have a flood light with PIR covering your parking bay if you have one
  • Leave your bedroom window slightly open if it's practical for you to do so (probably not in winter or if you are living next to a pub!)
  • Avoid hotel parking crime hotspots - look for secure parking when booking and check with local tradesmen for the reputation for van break-ins 

I hope that this advice is in someway helpful and it gets you thinking about how secure is your van?

Jeff Scott

Managing Director 

Sussex Installation Team LTD

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