Industry-wide action is needed for a “Once in a Generation” chance to fight the tool crime problem, says tool theft campaigning group Van Watch, which is calling for concerted action to take advantage of legislative opportunity.

A new law in England and Wales will deploy technology to make it harder for thieves to sell stolen tools and equipment.

The Equipment Theft (Prevention) Bill requires certain security features for frequently stolen equipment.  Although the bill was originally proposed to protect agricultural equipment, the Home Office are consulting on extending the powers to make forensic marking of expensive power tools a universal  requirement.

This would require manufacturers and resellers to ensure that valuable tools are marked and registered at point of sale, making them traceable if stolen, and harder for thieves to sell on. Forensic marking also helps police with prosecutions and increases convictions.

Van Watch is a not-for-profit industry group campaigning against tool theft and supporting victims. Founder, Ray Stafford, explained the urgency of industry wide action:

“The whole van-driving, tool-using community has a unique opportunity to disrupt the business model of tool crime, by making stolen tools harder to sell and easier to trace. The Home Office consultation runs until 13 July 2023, and if there is not substantial support from individuals and trade bodies within that time, ministers might simply let it drop.

With tool crimes now occuring every 9 minutes, and costing £1million per day in stolen tools, damaged vans and lost work, this would be a disastrous outcome. We must step forward and Back The Bill”

How can you help?

Stafford has specific messages for trade associations, tool manufacturers and tradespeople in general.

Trade associations: views are particularly being requested by the home office, and this is a unique opportunity to speak with authority on behalf of their members.

 Tool manufacturers: must step up and engage constructively with the home office and the police and other authorities, proving conclusively that they stand shoulder to shoulder with their customers on this issue.

 Tradespeople: Use the QR code to access the Home Office website, or simply email “I support the forensic marking of power tools” to