Monday 10 August 2020

New Tool Theft App achieves BSI Kitemark for Secure Digital Applications

As companies start to emerge from COVID-19 restrictions they face many business challenges – not least introducing new working practices, such as social distancing and workplace cleaning to protect customers, visitors and contractors.

Secured by Design (SBD), the official police security initiative, advises that criminals too will be looking to return to their pre-COVID-19 activities. So security should be on the agenda too, especially around protecting tools from being stolen from premises and vehicles. This is because it continues to be a high volume crime – attractive to professional gangs and opportunist thieves alike.

Although theft of tools is not specifically documented in national crime statistics, there are many sources available that indicate the size and scale of the problem.

For example, in response to a Freedom of Information request, West Midlands police disclosed they had 4,391 thefts from vans in the calendar year 2018 and 4,708 in the previous year.

In a similar request to the Metropolitan Police, it was disclosed there were 14,256 thefts from vans with £14million of stolen property between April 2018 – March 2019.

Simply Business, a UK insurer of small to medium-sized businesses, reported in November 2019 that tool theft claims from premises and vehicles had increased by 54% between 2016-18. Their research of 1,000 UK tradespeople in August 2019 found more than one in three (37%) had become a victim of tool theft with the average loss of earnings and cost of replacing tools of £3,000.

In October 2019, the Federation of Master Builders found 78% of Britain’s builders had tools stolen over the last ten years. Of working days lost to tool theft over this period, 29% of builders said 1-2 days, 16% 2-5 days and 7% five working days or more.

The same month, the Federation of Small Businesses published that the total cost to small businesses in England and Wales of crimes like burglary, theft and criminal damage (non-cyber crime) is £12.9bn every year. 

SBD has more than 800 member companies with thousands of products in more than 30 different crime categories that have achieved our Police Preferred Specification. A number of these companies specialise in vehicle security to protect vans and tools.

Products range from wheel clamps and steering wheel locks through to internally anchored security boxes, property marking and forensic coding systems, key fob and signalling blockers, and tracking systems.

We now have our first member company that has an app specifically developed to combat tool theft, which has achieved the BSI Kitemark for Secure Digital Applications. With company and product sharing the same name, the Tool Watch App encourages users to register the make, serial number and photo of their tools onto the app.

This enables police, who have their own interface, to carry out on-the-spot checks to see whether tools they have recovered have been stolen – providing the opportunity for police to reunite crime victims with their tools. The app is being piloted by the Metropolitan Police.

The product was raised in the House of Commons on 8 June 2020 by MP Bim Afolami (Hitchen and Harpenden), who asked the Minister for Crime and Policing, Kit Malthouse, whether he would champion the Tool Watch App to police forces.

The Minister replied that there was a lot more the Government could do to harness technology to fight crime and, when COVID-19 restrictions allowed, he would be keen to meet its developers and see the Tool Watch App for himself.

SBD advises businesses of all sizes to take steps to protect their tools and secure their vans. It may seem like an optional purchase, but it could save considerable business disruption.


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