Theft of vans in West Yorkshire more than double in 12 month as over £800,000 of tools stolen

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Thefts of vans in West Yorkshire more than doubled in just 12 months as new figures reveal more than £800,000 of tools were stolen in a year.

-> Hundreds raised for hedgehog rescue after thieves steal their van in Leeds

The statistics - released as part of a Freedom of Information request - show 91 vans were stolen in March 2019, a significant increase from 44 in April 2018.

A total of £836,053 of tools were also stolen in the period of April 2018 to March 2019.

The largest amount of recorded crime related to vans was in October 2018.

More than £110,000 of tools were stolen and 89 vans stolen within the month, the figures reveal.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation Of Master Builders, said more than half of builders have experienced tool theft - with concerns growing over a 'crime wave wreaking havoc across the construction industry'.

Mr Berry said: "Tools are being stolen from vans and direct from construction sites, with some builders even being assaulted by would-be thieves.

"The impact of this on the nation’s smaller building firms is particularly disruptive.

"Not only is there a high cost in time and money to replace these expensive tools, and to fix the damage caused, but without the right tools, firms are simply unable to work.

"This is leaving construction firms vulnerable at a time when other factors, such as skills shortages and material prices rises, are already causing the sector a headache.”

Mr Berry explained some simple steps people can take to thwart thieves before the theft.

He added: "Where possible, builders should bring tools inside at night. If that’s not possible, install extra locks or safes in the van.

"However, even when taking these precautions, theft can still occur. It’s therefore important that builders put measures in place that give them the best chance of recovering their stolen tools.

"Installing an affordable CCTV system is one option but builders should also ensure they overtly brand their items with company details.

"They should also register their tool serial numbers on an online database. We are also calling on the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police.

"The courts have an important role to play too by ensuring they take this crime seriously, with appropriate sentencing when cases are brought before them.”

In the latest statistics for March 2019, it was revealed 91 vans were stolen, with a total value of £41,922 stolen.

Hundreds of pounds was raised for Andrew's Hedgehog Rescue after their van was recently stolen in Leeds City Centre.

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