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Fear of theft and violence putting a strain on tradespeople, claims new research

By Alan Beresford

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Over nine in 10 tradespeople have been targeted by criminals, new research has claimed.
Over nine in 10 tradespeople have been targeted by criminals, new research has claimed.

MORE than nine in 10 tradespeople have been targeted by criminals as the fear of theft and violence puts a strain on the industry, alarming statistics reveal.

New research from commercial insurer NFU Mutual found that 92 per cent say they or someone they know have been a victim of theft.

In the last 12 months alone, 53 per cent of those surveyed said they had experienced tool or equipment theft, just shy of half had materials pinched, almost three in 10 had a vehicle stolen and 23 per cent were victims of organised crime.

Those figures clearly weigh heavily on those in the industry, with almost a third of tradespeople (29 per cent) admitting that the fear of theft and violence on their business contributes towards difficulties with mental health.

The rising cost of living (42 per cent), financial worries (41 per cent), stress of the job (39 per cent), long hours (35 per cent) and a lack of regular work (33 per cent) were the other factors.

Zoe Knight, Commercial Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Theft of tradespeople’s tools or equipment continues to blight the industry and the fact 92 per cent of people surveyed say they – or someone they know – have been a victim speaks volumes.

“Tradespeople rely on this equipment for their income and livelihood, with crime hitting not just their pocket but, as our research shows, also having a huge and negative impact on their mental health.

“To see a third of tradespeople fearing theft or violence in their day-to-day job is worrying and we would urge tradespeople to do all they can to offput the threat of that happening – via security measures and recording serial numbers of equipment.

“We want tradespeople to feel supported and protected should the worst happen and know there is also help available for those struggling.”

While more than three-quarters of tradespeople did say they were confident or fairly confident they would know where to go for support if they were struggling, worryingly, almost four in 10 (36 per cent) said it is unlikely they would seek help if they had mental health problems.

NFU Mutual is a proud supporter of Samaritans, a charity which offers round the clock emotional support to anyone struggling to cope.

NFU Mutual Risk Management Services is sharing the following advice to tradespeople:

  • Minimise storage of tools and equipment in vans: a robust, lockable building is preferable. Consider intruder alarms for high value equipment.
  • If you have to leave tools and equipment in a van, make sure it’s alarmed and, as a minimum, park against a wall so that doors cannot be opened easily.
  • Don’t make it easy for thieves to guess that equipment is kept inside (a van or a building) eg by leaving items on display and leaving tools around which may assist an intruder.
  • Store portable items within a robust, lockable store that is fixed in place.
  • Restrict and control vehicular access to the work site.
  • Consider video security system (temporary systems and temporary intruder alarm systems are available for site use).
  • Security mark your tools and equipment (eg forensic, engraving or permanent marking) to deter thieves and aid recovery.
  • Don’t stockpile high value materials such as lead and copper or leave them around for longer than necessary.
  • For construction vehicles use CESAR marking, tracking and immobilisation to prevent and trace thieves.
  • Check all locks and security measures before leaving any site e.g. alarms switched on, cameras facing the right direction and security lights working.

For more information, visit www.nfumutual.co.uk/trades-insurance/

For more information about Samaritans and the work the charity does, visit https://www.samaritans.org/

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