5 tech-savvy ways to prevent your tools from being stolen

Visit any worksite and at least one tradie will be able to regale a yarn of a time they had their tools nicked from the back of the ute, swiped on-site or mistakenly carried off by a contractor.

Stolen tools are more than a mere inconvenience – as well as shouldering the replacement costs, your ability to secure work and complete jobs in the meantime is undermined.

So, if you’d be lost without the tools of your trade, here are five tech-savvy and affordable ways to protect your tools from being stolen, help you recover them and potentially reduce your insurance premiums.

“If you’re not keeping an up-to-date inventory of all your hand-tools and power-tools, it may well be a case of you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”

1. Motion sensing camera

For Melbourne builder Jamie Grenfell, the final straw was when he had $7,000 worth of equipment stolen from his ute in March this year. It was the sixth time he’d been robbed in three years.

His solution – he installed three security cameras and caught the thief in the act.

“It’s my livelihood, I’m actually borrowing tools from another builder until my insurance comes through,” he reportedly said.

If a thief is constantly nicking your tools and you’re at your wit’s end, it could be worthwhile investing in a motion sensor camera to catch them red-handed. Better yet, your camera needn’t look obvious – you can go all James Bond by hiding it in a pen.

2. Microscopic labelling with DataDots

Labelling or engraving your tools can help you recover them if they’re stolen. But you’ve got to take the time to do it properly and there’s only so much identifying information you can scrawl across each tool.

Enter: microscopic labelling technology. You simply pick up an aerosol can and spray hundreds of teeny tiny dots – called DataDots – onto your property.

Each dot displays a unique code which is stored on the National Equipment Register database and can verify ownership, assist in your insurance claims and provide evidence to prove theft.

3. GPS tracking

With GPS tracking, you can quickly and easily track down your tools if they’re stolen.

There are plenty of technology providers with various different solutions (like this one or this one), but essentially they involve attaching a long-range, low-power GPS tracking chip onto each piece of equipment you wish to keep tabs on.

You then install the associated app on your smart device and start receiving real-time location updates.

Take care with the type of tracker you’re purchasing – Bluetooth solutions such as Tile are useful for locating things you’ve misplaced, like your keys, but less so for stolen items.

If you’re not great at remembering security codes, or if you’re sick of all those keys dragging down your stride, you could install a smart padlock.

There are a number of bluetooth enabled padlock providers now, including MasterLockNokēDog&Bone and AirBolt.

You simply attach them like a traditional padlock and then use your mobile device to lock, unlock and track your property.

5. Digital inventory

If you’re not keeping an up-to-date inventory of all your hand-tools and power-tools, it may well be a case of “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”.

This is where a high-tech, user-friendly inventory platform, such as Sortly Pro, can be invaluable.

For more guidance on creating and maintaining an inventory list, see our recent blog.

Added protection

There are plenty of clever new ways to protect your tools from theft, but it’s just as important to exercise some good ol’ common sense – don’t leave them lying about unattended, lock them up at night and store them out of sight.

And don’t overlook a good Business Insurance solution – it may set you back just a fraction of the cost of replacing your tools and can  allow you to get on with the job more quickly if you do get cleaned out.


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