Insurer ECIC is urging construction and tradespeople to step up security to protect their tools

The average cost of claims for the theft of tools from construction sites and vans rose by 56% from £2,865 to £5,091.

Insurer ECIC said the highest value claim was £83,500 for electrical cabling and copper piping from a site in Kidderminster.

And of all loss claims reported to ECIC in 2012/2013, thefts accounted for almost a fifth. 

The specialist insurer for the building trades has urged contractors and tradespeople to step up security to protect their tools, plant equipment and personal technology from the risk of theft. 

Claims manager Ian Hollingworth said policyholders could take several steps to reduce the risks, such as parking in well-lit places and removing items from vehicles.

He added: “During the downturn in the construction sector theft from vans became more prevalent. As well as being an enormous inconvenience, it can create work delays, unexpected costs if equipment needs to be hired while the claim is processed and even jeopardise contracts.  

“Sadly, it is relatively easy to obtain specialist lock picks over the internet and, while the cost of changing locks can seem high, it is certainly worth considering changing locks to incorporate an anti-pick replacement cylinder.

“Deadlocks can also help improve security and [contractors should] consider accredited Slamlocks. These automatically lock doors when they are shut, adding an extra layer of protection over manufacturers’ door handles.”

The most common thefts are from vans parked in hotel car parks and B&Bs as tradespeople, on short-term contracts, board away from home.

While the majority of claims were for theft of tools from vans, higher value items such as laptops were also the subject of several claims along with equipment on site.