Tool Theft Prevention for Tradies from Work Sites and Trade Vehicles

September 8th, 2017

Whether you are a business owner or an apprentice just starting out, having to buy tools is a considerable expense. Tool theft prevention is an important but often overlooked aspect of running your business. Here we’re bringing you some top resources in the one spot to help with tool theft prevention.  While insurance can cover losses, it doesn’t cover the frustration, fear and feeling of violation of being robbed of both your tools and income until they are replaced.

Tool Theft Prevention


Theft of tools is becoming a common problem, whether taken from construction sites, trade vehicles or garden sheds.

Police believe that the perpetrators are well organised and actively targeting worksites and trade vehicles.

Police are locating a significant amount of tools at drug search warrants as they are stolen and used as a commodity to buy methamphetamine and other drugs. By reducing the risk of your tools being stolen you are also contributing to the fight against methamphetamine.

Police are unable to return tools to owners because they have not recorded their serial numbers or don’t have other identifiable marks such as a driver’s licence number engraved on the items.

Disappointingly, this often results in less charges for the offender as no owner can be proven.

Tool Theft Prevention Resources

Power tools will often have serial numbers that should be recorded and have your driver’s licence engraved on the item.  Better still a covert form of identification like a forensic property marking such as offered by SelectaDNA.

Theft Prevention for Tradies from Sites and Trade Vehicles


The installation of unique identifiers on power tools is more robust as serial numbers can be removed. SelectaDNA is a covert marking system, similar to data dots. Police are equipped with the special lights that can identify if property is marked.

Being able to positively identify stolen property in the possession of someone else then allows Police to track down the owner and charge the suspect.


Without any form of property identification makes the Police’s job is that much harder and often the offender cannot be charged.

Tool Theft Prevention (Serial Number Action Partnership)

An initiative of the NZ Police, you can register your property serial numbers and provide these to the Police if the items are stolen.  This is a free service and ensures you can instantly retrieve your asset list details if required and makes it harder for criminals to sell stolen goods in NZ. Record the serial numbers here.

Theft Prevention for Tradies from Sites and Trade Vehicles


This is also useful for insurance purposes to keep a record of all tools you own in the unfortunate event of a loss.

Loss Prevention Initiatives for Worksites

  1. Have your Drivers Licence engraved on all of your tools.
  2. Record Serial numbers of all power tools and equipment or use a covert identification kit (can be purchased for around $50.00).
  3. Keep receipts and photographs of tools.  Record on your smart phone and backup to the cloud.
  4. Keep garages, storage containers and tool sheds securely locked with windows covered inside to prevent people seeing in.
  5. Consider employing licenced security on construction sites.
  6. Consider installing security cameras on construction sites. Cameras can deter criminal activity.
  7. Install better quality locks on construction site container lock ups.
  8. Containers should be security monitored.

Loss Prevention Initiatives for Trade Vehicles with Equipment Inside

  1. Many trade vehicles have locks forced and rear canopies broken into.
  2. Lockable secured purpose-built tool boxes for vehicles are recommended and available from building trade suppliers. Securely fix to the vehicle.
  3. Vehicles should have audible intrusion and motion sensor alarms installed.
  4. Tool lock boxes can be connected to the alarm system.  A loud-sounding alarm alerts owners to thefts as they occur and deter thieves in the process.
  5. Thefts commonly occur in trade vehicles parked on the street or up a driveway. Thieves are getting more brazen so it pays to be extra vigilant.
  6. Avoid parking on the street and remove tools and computer gear from trade vehicles after hours.
  7. Keep work vehicles locked on worksites whilst unattended.
  8. Consider installing dark tinted window film keeping tools out of sight.


Loss Prevention Initiatives for Personal or Work Property at Home

  1. Secure your garden shed with a high quality lock.
  2. Engrave your tools, record serial numbers of power tools and all valuable equipment.
  3. Remove tree growth around garden sheds and install a motion sensor security light and camera.
  4. Have a trailer lock or wheel clamp on your trailer, mark your trailer.

We hope these resources have provided you some great ways to protect your tools. If you’ve got a friend in the business too, share this blog with them so they too can be safe.

Have look at an initiative Police are doing to help Builders and Tradies keep their tools safe.

If you see any suspicious behaviour ring 111 and record the description of the person(s) and registration number of any vehicle they are associated with.