As a tradesman your tools are mighty important to you, so it is important that they are protected both physically and financially.

For many tradesmen the thought of having your tools stolen is enough to make you feel sick, but every day around Australia there are hard working tradies having their tools nicked.

Unfortunately many stolen tools end up being sold for a fraction of their true value by drug addicts and other lowlifes who don’t understand what it’s like to work hard and earn their own money.

Whilst we’ll never be able to stop tool theft entirely, there are a few things we can do to help to protect our tools from the scumbags who want to take them from us.

How Are Tools Being Stolen?

We’ve run the data on our own claims between 2012 and 2019 and can see just how the thieves are getting access to tradies tools.

Chart showing how tradies tools are stolen

Virtually all of these claims involve forced entry, as that is what our policies cover, but we’ve been able to use some extra data to see exactly what was involved.

It shows that thieves are willing to do whatever they can to access your tools.  They’ll cut through your padlocks and chains, they’ll drill out locks and they’ll smash your windows.

We don’t have data on tools that are stolen from unsecured locations (as our policies don’t cover that) but there would no doubt be a huge number of thefts where no forced entry was required.

So how can we stop it from happening?

Lock Them Up

Our first tip may seem quite obvious, but there are plenty of trusting tradies out there who unfortunately leave their tools unsecured in their ute.

A lot of tool theft is done on an opportunity basis. This means that the scum are driving around looking for random targets, then having a go wherever there’s an opportunity for a quick score. By leaving your tools unsecured you are given them the opportunity they want.

Tradie Ute

If the scum walk up to your ute and see that your equipment is well secured, they are more likely to go looking for another ute or trailer which provides an easier opportunity.

As a minimum, all toolboxes should be properly secured to the tray of your ute and they should also have big solid locks on the lids or doors. Also consider the hinges, as weak hinges on some toolboxes can easily be broken.

Any large equipment that cannot fit in a toolbox should be locked to your vehicle with a chain and padlock. Ladders should be secured in a similar way, or even taken off the ute and placed inside your home if possible.

Most average padlocks can be easily and quietly cut using bolt cutters, and other types of toolbox locks can often be jimmied open with a crowbar, so don’t skimp on your security devices.

Keep Them Out Of Sight

Most tool thefts occur from utes parked outside of a tradie’s home during the evening.

Scumbags drive around the streets looking for utes and trailers that appear to be easy targets, and if your ute is sitting out there it will be a prime target.

The easiest way to stop this happening is to park your ute or trailer inside your garage or shed. If the lowlife thieves can’t see your gear from the street, then you are less likely to be targeted.

If you already have two cars in the garage, or if your garage doubles as storage space for the rest of your gear it may not be possible to park inside. In this case at least consider parking off the street. If you have room down the side of your house this can be a good option.

ID Your Equipment

Despite our best efforts, there is nothing we can do that will 100% guarantee the safety of our tools. So if they are going to get nicked, we want to make sure that we have the best chance of recovering them.

Trade Tool Engraving

All of your valuable tools should be engraved with a special marking. This may not stop someone from steeling them, but it will make them harder to sell and easier to identify if the police manage to recover your tools.

It is also a good idea to keep a comprehensive record of each and every tool, from your most expensive power tools through to every little drill bit and screwdriver. It’s amazing how quickly these things add up, and if you get cleaned out you want to make sure that everything is accounted for, especially if you have insurance.

The lowlifes who steel tradesmen’s tools are generally not the sharpest tools themselves, and the police do catch a surprising number of them along with recovering the stolen tools. If this happens, you want to make it as easy as possible to prove to the police which of the tools were yours.


After reading through this guide the Victorian Police contacted us with some more information about engraving.

They recommend that you engrave your tools with your driver’s licence number.

By using your licence number they’ll be able to quickly find you in their system and will have your current address details on file.

Although this information was provided by the Victorian Police, there is no reason for it not to apply to all other Australian states.

Insure Your Tools

Keeping your tools secure and out of sight is all good and well, but sometimes a determined thief will clean you out when you least expect it. When this happens, it is vital that you have insurance to cover their replacement.

Tradie Vehicle Insurance Report

When your tools are stolen you need to replace them quickly so you can get back to work. Having to cough up out of your own hard earned money is not ideal, but if you have them insured properly the insurance company will cover the bill for you.

Having your tools nicked is not a nice experience, but if there is a positive to be taken out of it, at least you’ll get to update all of your tools with new items. This is because most tool insurance policies provide new for old replacement.

The insurance companies will always try to pay your claim as quickly as possible, but generally it will take a week or more to get the money in your hand. This isn’t soon enough for most tradies, so you may have to cover the costs on your credit card until the insurance cheque arrives.

Insurance companies will generally want to see some form of evidence of ownership when paying claims, so in addition to your list try to keep copies of receipts, owner manuals or original packaging materials. Basically anything which can link you to the item.

Protect Your Tools

Essentially there are four main tips to protect your tools.

  • Lock them up
  • Keep them out of sight
  • ID your equipment and tools
  • Keep them properly insured

Your tools are a big part of your ability to earn an income as a tradesman, so it is worth making the effort to keep them safe.