Police officers are attending tradies’ breakfasts around the country, engraving tools with their owners’ drivers licence number and giving advice to help prevent tool theft.
While similar initiatives have taken place in various district over the years, the ‘Protect Your Tools’ campaign was started and grown in Waitematā by District Victim Coordinator Sergeant Aron McKeown.
After a fantastic response, the National Prevention Centre (NPC) was keen to support the initiative across all police districts.
“It’s a great opportunity for community engagement,” says Aron. “We’re there to have a chat, and also offering to engrave their tools while they have breakfast.
“As construction grows, we’re seeing an increase in construction site burglaries and tool thefts. Tools are highly valued items because they are easily portable and have a high resale value.”
Many tools are recovered at drug-related search warrants. “This indicates that offenders are using tools as a commodity to buy methamphetamine and other drugs in our community,” says Aron.
Late last year, 42 power tools worth more than $40,000 were recovered by officers executing a search warrant. Police could return only half to their owners after a difficult and time-consuming investigation which involved police contacting tool manufacturers and suppliers.
"The aim of the engraving work is to assist with this in the future and, of course, to prevent tools being stolen in the first place,” says Aron.
“Working with the trade sector, attending events, passing on prevention messaging and engraving tools has been really rewarding work. We’ve had a really positive response from the tradies just seeing us doing something for them. It’s important to work together to break the cycle.”
Inspector Penny Gifford, National Manager Partnerships in the NPC, says the initiative is a perfect example of Prevention First in action.
“We have identified a real issue impacting on an important sector of our community, as well as a big demand on police resources, then found a way for the sector to be involved in preventing the likelihood of further harm. Simple!,” says Penny.
“We’re working with Placemakers at the moment but all other major building retailers are lined up to take their turn.”
For information about events in your district, please talk to your District Prevention Manager, or contact Penny.
Our advice to tradies is to:
Engrave tools with a drivers licence number - Police will have a better chance of returning them if stolen.
Record serial numbers or take a photo and keep the details somewhere safe
Secure tools using good locks on sheds and containers
Report any suspicious activity or incident to Police
Break the cycle by only buying tools from a reputable business. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
“Police understand that it’s time-consuming to remove all valuables from your vehicle, but don’t leave tools in vehicles - particularly at night, even if it is parked in your driveway,” says Aron.
If tools are being kept in a vehicle:
use a quality lock box secured to the vehicle to store them
get a quality alarm with a glass break sensor
Store your vehicle in a secure garage if possible.