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Vero Voice Blog

Security tips for tradies' tools and equipment

By Stephen Henkin
Manager, Customer Risk Solutions

28 August 2018

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Construction is a booming sector in New Zealand, employing more than 250,000 people, and that boom means that there are a lot of expensive tools and equipment on building sites and in vehicles around the country.

Theft of tools and equipment is a common occurrence, and having insurance cover in place for tools and equipment means tradies can recover if anything is stolen. 

But there are lots of simple steps that tradies can take to help reduce the risk of loss - reducing the potential expense and inconvenience of doing without tools, and contributing to insurance affordability.

1. Mark your tools

One of the simplest ways to deter thieves is to mark your equipment by engraving your driver’s license number or company name onto it.

This helps to prevent theft because the owner of the equipment is easy to identify, and it also means that if equipment is stolen and recovered, it can be returned to the rightful owner.

Because engravings and serial numbers can be removed, another method is to use secret data dot markings. Data dots are micro-dots contained within a binder and can be sprayed onto tools and equipment. Each dot contains unique information which has been laser etched into it. Data-dot information is registered onto a database and Police can access the database if property is recovered or criminals arrested. 

2. Record serial numbers

Another great step is to record the serial numbers of tools and equipment that have them. 

The New Zealand Police have an initiative called the Serial Number Action Partnership (SNAP) where people can register and record their property’s serial numbers on a central database.

This is a free service, and allows information to be provided to the police if the equipment is stolen. This initiative aims to make it harder for criminals to sell the stolen goods and provides a positive method of confirming ownership if the items are recovered.

3. Take photographs and keep receipts

Tradies purchasing new equipment should ensure they take and store photographs of their tools and keep the receipts in a secure place. 

As well as helping identify your items if they are recovered, this can make lodging a claim much simpler for you if anything is stolen. 

4. Keep tools secure on site

If you’re leaving tools on site, they should be properly secured to help prevent theft.

Tools can be stored in a shed or shipping container with doors that can be secured with a high quality padlock. Covering or shrouding the lock can also protect the padlock from attack by crow bar, bolt cutters or angle grinder. 

Additional physical security measures you could use include a secure fence at least 1.8m high, good lighting, or digital CCTV coverage.

Using a simple checklist to ensure that everything used on site is returned to its storage shed can also be a good idea, especially on larger sites where tradies might be sharing common equipment. 

5. If you must leave your tools in a vehicle, make sure they’re protected

When not kept on site, tools and equipment are often stored in a tradie’s vehicle. 

Theft of these items from vehicles is common, because it’s quite easy to force vehicle locks or rear canopies to break in. Ideally, tools should be removed from vehicles and securely stored, but if that’s not practical, there are still steps you can take to secure them.

Tools in vehicles can be stored in a sturdy, lockable tool box that is secured to the vehicle. If the tool box doesn’t have its own locking mechanism, a close shackle padlock should be used. 

Ensuring that your vehicle is equipped with an audible intruder alarm system, and that your tool box is equipped with an intrusion sensor, can also help to prevent theft. You can also consider fitting steel bars to vehicle and canopy windows to improve security to these weak spots, or have the vehicle windows tinted so that the interior of the vehicle is not visible.

Where the vehicle is parked can also make a difference, because thieves can easily access a vehicle (and get away again) when it’s parked in the open. If possible, park your vehicle in a garage or behind a fence and gates. Parking in well-lit spots can also discourage thieves.

Remaining vigilant can also help to prevent crime, so remember to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. When on site, tradies should report any suspicious activity to site management, security, the customer or police.

If you'd like to check your insurance or talk to someone about one of our Tradies Insurance policies, you can find a broker here.

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