Tool theft on the rise: Tools stolen every 15 minutes

  • In total, 35,098 tools thefts were reported to the police in 2022 – up 13 per cent from the 31,161 reported cases the previous year. This equates to a tool being taken every 15 minutes, a rise from 17 minutes in 2021
  • Over half (55 per cent) of tool thefts reported in 2022 occurred from a vehicle (19,147), this equates to once every 27 minutes, a 10 per cent increase on 2021
  • A total of £66 million worth of tools were stolen from tradespeople’s vehicles in 2022

New analysis1 of police force data from Direct Line business insurance reveals that tools were stolen every 15 minutes in 2022 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In 2022, there were 35,098 incidents of tool theft reported to police forces – a 13 per cent increase from 2021.

In 2022, 19,147 cases of tool theft specifically from a vehicle were reported. This makes up over half (55 per cent) of all tool theft cases in the year. A tool theft occurred from a vehicle almost every half an hour (27 minutes) in 2022, which equates to a 10 per cent increase in incidents from the previous year.

Tool theft can prevent tradespeople from being able to carry out their jobs and significantly impacts them financially. Additional research from Direct Line business insurance found that the average value of tradespeople’s tools that had been taken from their vehicle was £3,425.2 This equates to a combined loss of £66 million, from the 19,147 cases of tool theft from vehicles in 2022.

Thefts reported to London’s Metropolitan Police represented 58 per cent (20,219) of all cases, and London also came out on top when the population density of the jurisdictions was considered.

Police forces with the highest levels of tool theft per resident – Direct Line business insurance, 2023:




Metropolitan Police


West Yorkshire


City of London Police


Cleveland Police


Northumbria Police


South Yorkshire Police


Cambridgeshire Police




Bedfordshire Police


Derbyshire Constabulary

Alison Traboulsi, Product Manager at Direct Line business insurance commented:

“The rising frequency of tool theft up and down the country is alarming. Our research shows that over half of all tool thefts occurred from a vehicle, highlighting the importance of keeping tools secure, as well as having the correct insurance in place if theft does occur. Tool theft is hugely disruptive for hardworking tradespeople who rely on their tools for their livelihoods, so it’s vital that they do all they can to help protect themselves. We would encourage tradespeople to take steps to help secure their tools, such as parking their vehicle in a safe, well-lit location, fitting additional locks or installing an alarm system and forensically marking their tools.

“At Direct Line, we know the impact of tool theft can be devastating, and we’re committed to giving tradespeople the protection they need to enable them to do what they do best. We offer flexible insurance cover options allowing tradespeople to build a policy which covers their specific insurance needs, whether that’s cover for during the day at work or tools locked in a vehicle overnight.”

For more information about Direct Line’s tradesperson tools cover, please visit our website:   

For tips on how to keep your van and tools safe please see:



(1)    Data collected from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the England, Wales and Northern Ireland Police forces, for tool thefts from January 2021 until December 2021, and also January 2022 until December 2022.

(2)    Opinium survey of 2000 UK adults, including 188 tradespeople, conducted 21st March – 24th March 2023.


Direct Line Group 

Unni Henry 

PR Manager

Email: [email protected]

About Direct Line business insurance

Launched in 2007 Direct Line business insurance now has over half a million customer policies, providing a flexible range of insurance products for the landlord, van and small business sectors.

Direct Line business insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line business insurance and U K Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line business insurance products or get a quote by calling 0345 301 4827 or visiting