Power tool theft on the rise

  • 08/03/2018
Police are urging tradies and homeowners are being urged to get their power tools engraved to increase the chances of them being returned if found.
Police are urging tradies and homeowners are being urged to get their power tools engraved to increase the chances of them being returned if found. Photo credit: Supplied

Tool theft is on the rise, with homes, vehicles, and worksites all over the country targeted by thieves.

Builder Khan Rogers had his car containing all his tools stolen from his driveway.

"When I woke up in the morning the whole car was gone. I had maybe $4,000 worth of tools stolen. Nail-guns, studs, saws...pretty much everything a builder would need."

While the car was eventually recovered, his tools were not.

"I haven't even replaced all my tools yet, but it has cost me over five grand"

Khan's since taken out more comprehensive tool insurance and has an alarmed work van, but his case is increasingly common.  

Now the Police are urging both tradies and diyers to get their tools engraved with their Driver's Licence number, record the serial numbers, and secure them in a locked shed.  

Sergeant Aron McKeown, Waitemata District Victim Coordinator, confirms that "as construction grows, NZ Police is seeing an increase in construction site burglaries and tool thefts. Tools are considered highly valued items and so they are being targeted."

Often stolen power tools are sold on places such as Facebook.
Often stolen power tools are sold on places such as Facebook.

Tool manufacturers also recognise the problem, and are incorporating anti-theft into their designs. Milwaukee's One-Key Tool Tracking app lets owners register, track, lock, and disable their tools while another brand, Paslode,  uses DataDot DNA technology, where microscopic, uniquely-coded dots are sprayed all over the tool.

Often stolen power tools are sold on places such as Facebook but Police are also finding them when carrying out drug-related search warrants. Late last year, the police recovered 42 power tools valued at over $40,000.

Over half of them were returned to their owners, and unique engravings/markings were a key factor in their return.

Builder Fergus Francis knows of at least three people who've had break-ins to their cars and sites in the last six months.

He has had his tools engraved, employs a "leave nothing behind" policy onsite, and parks in a secure garage.  

"If I was to have all of my kit stolen, I'd be about 25K in the hole, [and] I would also be absolutely heart broken."

He says tools hold sentimental value, especially for people who have inherited them or had them since their apprenticeships.

"We spend good money on our gear and use our tools every single day - you become attached to them.

"I know too many people that have had their vans or utes cleaned out overnight, or their sites smashed over...Losing gear is a huge kick in the feels."

Builder Fergus Francis engraves his tools and makes sure he removes them from his job sites at the end of day.
Builder Fergus Francis engraves his tools and makes sure he removes them from his job sites at the end of day. Photo credit: Supplied

Rogers thinks engraving is a great idea, but has not done it.

"I am aware of it [engraving], but I'm guilty of being a bit lazy and complacent. It'd definitely be handy."

The police have been working with the trade sector to combat the complacency by making tool engraving easier.

At trade events over the past eight months, the Police have engraved over 3000 tools in the Waitemata District alone.

"It's been really rewarding meeting the Tradies and helping break the cycle," Sgt. McKeown says.

Check out the PlaceMakers Monster Tool Sale and the engraving events between now and April 16th.

This article was created for PlaceMakers.