Van Watch welcomes new law to help prevent tool theft

A new law in England and Wales, which will see the widespread deployment of technology aimed at making it harder for thieves to sell stolen tools and equipment, has been welcomed by VanWatch, a cross-industry, not-for-profit organisation which campaigns against tool crime.


The Equipment Theft (Prevention) Bill has passed through the House of Commons and is expected to be signed into law by the King later this summer. The brainchild of Greg Smith MP, the bill requires certain security features for frequently stolen equipment. The Home Office are consulting on using the bill to make forensic marking of expensive power tools a universal requirement.

Manufacturers and resellers of high value tools will need to ensure that their products are marked, registered, and traceable if stolen, making it harder for thieves to sell stolen tools, and helping re-unite them with their owners. Forensic marking also helps police with prosecutions and increases convictions.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Smith said “They are not stealing power tools to do some DIY at home. They are stealing that equipment to sell and monetise it and if they cannot do so because of forensic marking, they will not steal it in the first place.”

Ray Stafford, founder of Van Watch welcomed the initiative. “Disrupting the business model of tool crime is a critical step forward, and we welcome both Greg’s bill and the Police Minister’s commitment to provide police manpower to enforce it. We call upon Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables to ensure that the Minister’s words are backed by action.

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“We hope that individual tradespeople and the organisations representing them will respond to the consultation and make it clear that they Back the Bill. We also call upon tool manufacturers and resellers to engage constructively with the Home Office and play their part in bearing down on this crime that so plagues their customers.””

Police Minister Chris Philps has committed to providing the officers to enforce the new law.

Organisations and individuals can take part in the consultation by clicking or by scanning the QR code.

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The consultation closes on 13th July 2023

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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