3 Tips You've Never Heard Of to Look After Your Tools Better
Tool theft is rampant across Australia. Over the years, there have been numerous reports of thieves targeting tradies, particularly those who work in construction sites and those who drive utes. Aside from affecting the tradies’ ability to work, the value of the stolen items could also reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You’ve probably heard these stories before and have already taken steps to ensure that your tools are safe from burglary and theft—from marking them with an engravement and keeping them securely locked up in your toolbox to installing an alarm system on your ute and parking it safely inside your garage or shed.
But "good enough" is never good enough when it comes to your equipment’s security. Here are three tech-savvy tips (that you’ve probably never heard of before) to look after your tools better:
1. Install a real-time time vehicle tracking system in your ute.
Opportunistic thieves steal tradie vehicles so they can unload the tools later at their disposal and even sell the vehicles to a fence, especially if they do not have signage.
A Hard Lesson Learned
On February 2019, a Gordon Park tradie named Nick Esplin was robbed of his 3-tonne trailer containing more than $50,000 worth of tools while working in the early hours of the morning at a construction site in Ashgrove. The site was locked at the time of the crime. Esplin had also parked his truck in front of the trailer to block it, but the thieves managed to steal the vehicle by ripping the truck in half. The thieves hooked the trailer into their own vehicle and hit Esplin's truck as they drove away. Esplin was left mentally devastated, unable to work for four days—The tools were not only essential to his work; They also have sentimental value because he’s had them since he first started in the tradie business.
The Queensland police are still looking for Esplin’s trailer, but despite the noise on social media, no clue to its whereabouts has surfaced yet. Had he installed a real-time vehicle tracking system in his trailer, he and the police could have easily located the vehicle, tools and all, and could even send the crooks to prison.
Track ‘Round The Clock
Installing a real-time vehicle tracking system may not be able to stop thieves from stealing your ute and all the tools it contains, but it lets you know where your vehicle is. You will also get instant notification when it’s driven by someone else.
When choosing a vehicle tracker, pick the types that let you track a vehicle’s location in real-time over the internet, including sending you an update on your smartphone or computer as soon as your subject moves and letting you live-stream the information via Google Maps. Look also for those with the geofencing feature, which lets you change the setting to only send updates when your vehicle leaves a specific area.
2. Mark your tools with microdots.
Engraving your tools can repel thieves and assist the police in recovering the items if they get stolen or lost. Engravers are usually available for loan from your local police station and Neighbourhood Watch Area Coordinator at no cost. They are also offered for free during special events, like the Operation Tool by the North Shore, Rodney & West Auckland Police.
However, if you have items that are not suitable for engraving or you simply don’t like too many identifying information imprinted on your tools and equipment, you can securely yet effortlessly mark them through microscopic labelling technology.
Quick and Painless
Simply apply hundreds or even thousands of teeny tiny dots on your tools and equipment through an aerosol spray, brush or wand. Each dot displays a unique code which is then stored in the National Equipment Register database. These codes can be accessed by police to verify your ownership of the tools and provide evidence to prove theft if they are stolen. They also help untraceable parts to be linked to a piece of particular equipment. Additionally, they can assist in your insurance claims.
Impossible to Remove
The microdots are invisible to the naked eye but can be easily detected by a UV light and magnifying device. They are also virtually impossible to locate and remove. Usually, the microdotting kit comes with warning identification stickers that you can place on your tools and equipment to deter thieves from targeting your valuables.
3. Put a GPS tracker on your tools or in your toolbox.
Putting a GPS tracking device on your precious tools or toolbox helps you track these implements in the event that they’re stolen, misplaced or lost. You won’t also need to spend money on the replacement.
Alladin’s Cave of Stolen Tools
Last year in the UK, police discovered “Alladin’s cave of stolen tools” after tracking one of the stolen toolboxes that had a GPS. The thieves broke into four tradie vans in Bristol and stole all the equipment inside. Little did they know, one of the victims had fitted a GPS tracker to his toolbox, which led officers to a location in Gloucestershire. The police easily followed the signal transmitted from the GPS tracker, catching the culprits red-handed in the process. Not only did they located the stolen tools from the van break-ins, but they had also discovered what appeared to be the thieves’ hideout where a slew of tradie tools and equipment presumed to be stolen over a long period of time were kept.
Such incident highlights the benefit of installing a GPS tracking device on your tools and equipment. Even if you’re not aware of the theft until hours after it took place, you can still see where your tools are transported or hidden and immediately ask the police to recover them.
Keeping your tools safe and secure is important to keep your tradie business running, but if you want to expand your services to more locations, you need to upgrade your equipment.