As a tradie, your tools are your most valuable possession – but they’re also a top target for thieves. Tool theft is on the rise in New Zealand, as a handful of our MPTT trainees have discovered. But, there are things you can do to protect your kit. Read on to find out some simple ways to keep your tools safe.
MPTT electrical trainee Vaine Wolfgramme learned first-hand why tradie’s insurance is so important when her tools were burgled from her sister’s house earlier this year.
“It was my Makita drill — an impact and a hammer and they were worth about $800. It was brand new. I’d only just got it. I hadn’t even had time to write my name on them.”
Stolen along with her tools was Vaine’s Playstation 4 and her work safety gear.
But luckily, Vaine was wise and had her tools insured before they were nicked. This meant she’s able to replace the tools she lost, without having to cover the full expense herself.
“I’m just waiting for the insurance company to give me the money so I can go and buy some new tools.”
Watch your back
To protect your livelihood, it’s important to get educated on tool theft and what you can do to prevent it.
Remember, tools that are visible from the street are more likely to be stolen. So, it’s best not to keep tools in the back of your ute or hanging up on the garage wall.
It’s common for thieves to sit, wait, and watch for the perfect window to steal – so keep that in mind when you’re taking tools from one place to another.
In Vaine’s case, she believes the thieves were watching her drop her tools off at her sister’s house after work, and took the opportunity to break in after she left.
“It was a rush job.”
If you normally leave your tools in your vehicle overnight, NZ Police suggest bringing them into your home each night instead.
If this isn’t an option, lock your tools in a secure box that’s hidden from view, or cover your tools with a blanket or tarpaulin to keep them out of sight.
Get it engraved
Another key way to keep your tools safe is to get your name engraved on them, says Vaine.
“Some people mark or inscribe their tools — like, write all over them.”
Otherwise police might find a pile of stolen tools down the track, but if they’re not marked as yours, they won’t be able to get them back to you.
For the best chance of having your tools returned, NZ Police recommend engraving tools with your driver’s license number.
You can find an engraving kit at The Warehouse or Mitre 10 for less than $50.
If you don’t have one, you can get it done at a trophy engraving or key cutting store.
Engraving is best because it can’t be scratched off or removed. But at the very least, be sure to mark your new tools with paint or a permanent marker in a unique and easily identifiable way.
Make sure you’re covered
Insurance and police registration are failsafe ways to protect your tools.
Fortunately for Vaine, her tools were insured when they were stolen so it was easy to replace them. To process her insurance claim, she had to provide the police report and the receipt for the stolen tools.
“I would say register your tools, because if you’ve done that and your tools get stolen, then you can probably get them back if the cops find them.”
You can register your tool serial numbers online through the NZ Police SNAP website.
It’s also a good idea to take photos of your receipts, in case the print on them fades. Make sure you store copies of the photos somewhere they’ll be easy to find later.
Tradies can also use security apps like Tool Protect. The app stores information about your tools and makes it easy to file police and insurance reports for stolen tools from your phone.
Vaine’s advice for trades students is to make sure you’re insured as you advance in your career, because of how expensive tools can be to replace.
“Once I get a Fluke Multifunction Tester, that’ll cost around $2000 on its own.”
Tool tips for tradies
Your tools are crucial to your trades career, so do what you can to keep them safe. Tool theft is common, but there are things you can do to avoid it. Here are some reminders:
- Engrave your tools with your name or licence number.
- Get your tools insured.
- Register tool serial numbers with NZ Police.
- Store tools in secure places out of sight.
- Be vigilant when moving your tools from place to place.