They may have broken into the victim's van with a skeleton key

A gang of cheeky dirtbags made off with thousands of pounds worth of tools, but not before leaving what they didn’t want outside the owner’s front door.

Carl Harrison, a self employed plumber and heating engineer from Winshill, became yet another victim of the tool theft epidemic on March 14th. He found his hand tools discarded by the door and quickly went to check his van, only to find that the expensive power tools inside were gone.

The 43 year old said: "I parked up outside my house at 8pm and I know I locked it because I had to wait for my little one to get out of the van. My wife goes to work before me in the morning and the next day she noticed that my hand tools were by the front door.

"That is when we realised that the doors of the van were open and all my power tools were gone. They were Milwaukee tools and had a value of more than £1,000.

"I reported it as soon as I realised and forensics came out to get some prints while PCSO’s knocked on a few doors.

"I couldn’t believe it. I have had the van for five years and nothing like this has ever happened to me before."

via GIPHY

Oddly enough, there were no signs of a break in, leading the father of three to suspect that the culprits used some kind of skeleton key.  

"I have heard that thefts using skeleton keys are quite common at the moment because they are so easy to get your hands on, you can even buy them online.

"It makes me quite mad because I have worked hard and built this business up from nothing and someone just came along and helped themselves to what is mine.

"It has also impacted my insurance so I have had to pay out more just because someone took what wasn’t theirs."

We are sure that most of you, dear readers, will sympathise with the unfortunate Mr Harrison. Tales of tool theft have become a common sight in newspapers all over the country, with many (sensible) people calling for tougher sentences for perpetrators.

Unfortunately, many of the tools required to run a successful trade business are worth a pretty penny, and there are no shortage of buyers online and at markets. Earlier this year, a carpenter managed to get his tools back after spotting them being advertised on Facebook.

A spokesman for Staffordshire Police offered the following advice to vulnerable tradies:

  • Try to park in a well-lit area with the doors adjacent to a wall

  • Don't leave tools in vehicles unattended or overnight, and place a sign in the window stating they have been removed.

  • When tools and equipment are not being used, ensure they are kept securely in a lockable store rather than in your vehicle.

  • If it is not possible to remove tools and equipment from the van, consider fitting a security cage in the rear of the van.

  • Consider whether the rear area of the van can be alarmed.

  • Visibly mark your machinery and tools using an engraving or chemical etching kit or use a forensic marking kit. Place a sticker in your window to say you have done so - the signage alone, can be a very effective deterrent.

Remember, most thieves are not criminal masterminds; they're opportunists who take advantage of people who leave themselves vulnerable. 
Take our advice: invest in some security and make sure that your tools are insured!

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