TOOL theft is a growing threat to the livelihoods and even the lives of tradesmen, says a Leamington carpenter recovering after a vicious robbery.
Ian Gasgoigne was attacked when he tried to stop thieves raiding his van. It was the second time in less than a year the the 36-year-old had been targeted.
He said: “This is becoming more and more commonplace.
“I’ve heard of victims in similar experiences having to give up their jobs because they could not afford to replace their livelihood, and in one case I’ve heard a man even took his life.”
Ian was working indoors when he noticed three men taking tools from his van during a job in Corley near Coventry.
He took the robbers by surprise and snatched the key out of the ignition of their nearby getaway car from the open window while the driver was turned away.
But the robbers tripped him up as he attempted to run back inside the property where he was working, and began kicking him in the head as he lay on the ground.
And one of the thugs pulled out a knife and slashed Ian’s leg twice while demanding the key back.
It was prised from his hand before the gang fled with £2,000 worth of tools and the victim’s phone.
“Mentally I’m still in shock but something needs to be done,” said Ian.
“It’s getting beyond a joke so many trades are getting done over.
“When you report it to the police you just get given a crime number then that’s it.
“With all the tool thefts over the country where do they go?”
Reports of tool thefts across the UK have rocketed – up 60 per cent in a year to nearly 23,000.
The alarming rise prompted the launch of campaign group Van and Tool Theft Awareness (VATTA) which works with police to help protect tradesmen.
The campaign has even set up a tool bank in which stolen tools recovered by police – the original owners of which cannot be traced – together with second hand tools, are pooled together to help tradesmen who have been targeted by thieves.
A Home Office spokesperson said the government understood the ‘distress and disruption’ tool theft caused and remained ‘alert to trends and new methods used by criminals to commit crimes’.
Warwickshire Police had not commented at the time of going to press.