Tradies warned about 'opportunistic thieves' after tools found abandoned in west Auckland bush

A west Auckland man's discovery of tools abandoned in the bush has prompted a warning from the police about "opportunistic thieves".   

Tradies are being urged to keep a record of serial numbers to tackle a rise in tool theft, which the union representing them has described as "gutless".  

It was at the Oratia Stream walkway in west Auckland where Jack Oakes found the tools abandoned in the bush, during a morning stroll.   

"I noticed a drill just laying here, and as I got closer there was probably seven or eight other tools," he told Newshub.   

"Quite a few in the last few months, probably three or four builders that I know, have had vans broken into and quite a lot of equipment stolen."  

He alerted the police who removed the tools and are investigating.  

Senior Sergeant Luke Dennehy is now urging tradies to "take care where they park their vehicles and remove tools from the vehicles if possible" to deter "opportunistic thieves".   

It was just six months ago when police discovered a "treasure trove" of tools stolen from a Grey Lynn address in central Auckland.  

"I'm hearing more and more about it in recent months," Oakes said. "There's definitely more of it happening and it's hitting closer and closer to home."  

The union that represents tradies, Amalgamated Workers Union NZ (AWUNZ), is aware of the problem.  

"It's a cowardly act, gutless stuff, you know?" AWUNZ national secretary Maurice Davis told Newshub.   

"Everyone's doing it tough, but there's no excuse, because you're stealing food off that guy's table. Not only are you pinching his tools, but you're also pinching his ability to work."  

Police told Newshub tools are often located when recovering stolen property. But if the tools haven't been engraved or if the serial number hasn't been recorded, the police are limited in what they can do to return the tools to the rightful owner.   

Their advice is to mark the tools in some way, to be able to identify them.  

That's exactly what one Auckland tradie - who chose not to be named - did, and it paid off. He had $10,000 worth of tools stolen from his van, but because he kept a photo record of the serial number on his tools, the police tracked some of them down at a pawn shop.  

"Police can easily look at the serial number and match the serial number to the tool that's sold in the shop, so the police could easily get the tool back and return it to me," the tradie told Newshub.   

So, that is the message to tradies: keeping track of your tools could help to get them back.