The staggering extent of tool thefts in Sheffield has been revealed, with more than 2,600 vehicles having been targeted in the last five years.
Between 2014 and the end of November last year, tools were reported as being stolen from motor vehicles across the city 2,635 times, figures obtained by The Star under the Freedom of Information Act show.
The worst neighbourhoods for tool theft have also been revealed, with 21 recorded within the city centre between December 5, 2017 and November 30 last year, during which time 20 were logged in Hillsborough and 19 in the wards of both Crookes & Crosspool and Dore & Totley.
In 2016, tools were reported as being stolen from 757 vehicles across Sheffield, more than double the 303 such crimes logged in 2014.
That figure fell sharply to 352 between December 5, 2017 and November 30, 2018, though it is not clear whether a change in the way crimes are recorded played a part in this rapid decline.
Police figures also show tools were recorded as being stolen from people’s homes 597 times in the last five years, and from other buildings 1,197 times.
The Federation of Small Businesses has described tool theft as a major issue for tradespeople.
Claire Reading, the organisation’s South Yorkshire development manager last year said it could be ‘particularly devastating’, forcing them to cancel jobs and lay off staff until they were re-equipped.
She told how many small firms had given up reporting crimes against their businesses because they didn’t feel it would achieve anything.
According to the FSB, business crime affects up to a third of UK firms annually, costing small companies more than £12 billion.
It has called for more resources to be allocated to fighting business crime, and for firms to be given a greater say in local policing strategies to tackle the issue.
South Yorkshire Police did not respond to The Star’s enquiry about what it is doing to tackle tool theft, but the force did provide the following tips for people to avoid falling victim:
Consider fitting number plate security screws
Fit your wheels with lockable wheel nuts, protect the spare wheel from being stolen by fitting a spare wheel guard
If you can, remove tools from your vehicle overnight
If you are unable to remove expensive equipment, keep it in a storage box or a vault that is fixed to the floor
If possible, park your van on a drive or in a garage
Park against a wall, side-by-side or back-to-back with another vehicle to prevent anyone getting into the side or back doors of the van
If you are unable to park on a drive, look for somewhere secure, well-lit and in view of CCTV
Make sure your tools are easily identifiable and marked with a vehicle registration number or postcode, so they can be easily returned if recovered by police
Consider whether you’ve got the right insurance; most standard van insurance policies do not cover loss of tools left in a van overnight
TOOL THEFTS FROM MOTOR VEHICLES IN SHEFFIELD
++ this figure is for the period December 5, 2017 – November 30, 2018
++ this figure is for the period January 1, 2017 – December 4, 2017