Less light in the evenings ‘provides greater opportunities for thieves’, says head of motor claims

Insurance claims for theft on personal home and motor policies increased by 34% in October and November compared to the rest of the year, the latest research from NFU Mutual has revealed.

In a statement released yesterday (26 October 2023), NFU Mutual highlighted that the rise in crime-related claims coincided with the arrival of darker evenings and the clocks going back this Sunday (29 October 2023), which create more opportunities for thieves.

“The nights quickly close in at this time of year and, by the time the clocks go back at the end of the October, we are left with very little light in the evening,” said NFU Mutual head of motor claims Dave Rossall.

“Unfortunately, this also provides greater opportunities for thieves, whether because homeowners and motorists are paying less attention to security or because thieves are attempting to make the most of the extended cover of darkness.”

The general insurance provider has urged policyholders “not to be complacent and to make sure they are taking basic security measures ahead of the winter”.

Tool theft focus

Meanwhile, police force data has shown that darker nights also lead to an increase in tool theft.

In a statement released yesterday (26 October 2023), Direct Line business insurance highlighted that tool theft increased by 34% after the clocks changed in November 2022, compared to April 2022 when the days lasted longer.

In particular, tools stolen from vehicles rose by 44% in that same timeframe as days became darker.

Rates of tool theft from vehicles, furthermore, increased by 20% over the autumn and winter of 2021/2022 as opposed to the spring and summer.

The average value of tradespeople’s tools taken from their vehicles was £3,425 – suggesting that £37m worth of tools were stolen from vehicles during the autumn and winter of 2021/2022.

That reflects a £6m increase from spring and summer.

Direct Line business insurance product manager Alison Traboulsi explained: “In the winter months, the long nights provide cover of darkness for thieves, making it easier for them to break into vehicles, garages, lockups or building sites unnoticed.”

Direct Line obtained the data from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the England, Wales and Northern Ireland Police forces for tool thefts from January 2021 until December 2022.

Results detailing loss amounts, on the other hand, came from a survey of 2,000 UK adults – including 188 tradespeople – conducted between 21 March and 24 March 2023.

“Tool theft is hugely disruptive and stressful for tradespeople. Alongside having to replace tools, many may not be able to work while they do so, which directly affects their livelihoods,” Traboulsi added.

“With police force data showing that thieves exploit the darker days to steal tools, now is a good time to reflect on where and how tradespeople store their tools and make any necessary changes – from installing additional locks and alarms to being aware of where to park.”