GUEST ARTICLE: Tool theft on the rise – tools stolen every 15 minutes

  • 18 May 2023

New analysis1 of police force data from Direct Line business insurance reveals that tools were stolen every 15 minutes in 2022 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In 2022, there were 35,098 incidents of tool theft reported to police forces – a 13% increase from 2021…

In 2022, 19,147 cases of tool theft specifically from a vehicle were reported. This makes up over half (55%) of all tool theft cases in the year. A tool theft occurred from a vehicle almost every half an hour (27 minutes) in 2022, which equates to a 10% increase in incidents from the previous year.

Tool theft can prevent tradespeople from being able to carry out their jobs and significantly impacts them financially. Additional research from Direct Line business insurance found that the average value of tradespeople’s tools that had been taken from their vehicle was £3,425.2 This equates to a combined loss of £66 million, from the 19,147 cases of tool theft from vehicles in 2022.


Thefts reported to London’s Metropolitan Police represented 58% (20,2019) of all cases, and London also came out on top when the population density of the jurisdictions was considered.

Police forces with the highest levels of tool theft per resident – Direct Line business insurance, 2023:





Metropolitan Police


West Yorkshire


City of London Police


Cleveland Police


Northumbria Police


South Yorkshire Police


Cambridgeshire Police




Bedfordshire Police


Derbyshire Constabulary


Alison Traboulsi, Product Manager at Direct Line business insurance, comments: “The rising frequency of tool theft up and down the country is alarming. Our research shows that over half of all tool thefts occurred from a vehicle, highlighting the importance of keeping tools secure, as well as having the correct insurance in place if theft does occur.

“Tool theft is hugely disruptive for hardworking tradespeople who rely on their tools for their livelihoods, so it’s vital that they do all they can to help protect themselves.

“We would encourage tradespeople to take steps to help secure their tools, such as parking their vehicle in a safe, well-lit location, fitting additional locks or installing an alarm system and forensically marking their tools.

“At Direct Line, we know the impact of tool theft can be devastating, and we’re committed to giving tradespeople the protection they need to enable them to do what they do best. We offer flexible insurance cover options allowing tradespeople to build a policy which covers their specific insurance needs, whether that’s cover for during the day at work or tools locked in a vehicle overnight.”


  1. Data collected from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the England, Wales and Northern Ireland Police forces, for tool thefts from January 2021 until December 2021, and also January 2022 until December 2022. 
  2. Opinium survey of 2000 UK adults, including 188 tradespeople, conducted 21st March – 24th March 2023. 

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