Tool theft causes builder to shut up shop

A Bacchus Marsh builder, who had tools valued at $3000 stolen from his ute, says his business never recovered from the financial loss of the theft.

Self-employed builder Corrie, who asked that his surname not be revealed, closed his business last year.

He said last week that thefts from tradies were a scourge on small businesses in Melton and Moorabool.

Similar thefts in the western suburbs are the focus of police operation Tool Safe, which started last week.

Tools valued at more than $412,000 were stolen from the Melton area in the 12 months from October 2014 until last September.

Three nail guns, a drop saw and a box saw were among the tools stolen from Corrie’s work ute, which was parked at a friend’s property while Corrie was on holiday last April.

“I’ve been a builder for 30 years, originally from Western Australia and then I moved to Melbourne,” he said.

“I’ve only lived here for two-and-a-half years, and the only time I’ve ever had tools stolen was when I moved to Bacchus Marsh.

“I know a whole heap of tradies who have had their stuff stolen in the past year, sometimes from their vehicles. Sometimes the whole trailer with tools in it has been taken.”

He said his insurance had only covered tools that were inside his ute, not the tools taken from the trailer.

“It annoys me how the thieves just get away with it. I lost nail guns and a drop saw, and it put so much stress on my small business,” Corrie said. “One of the nail guns was borrowed from someone so I had to replace that one on top of replacing my own tools. Small business really does do it hard when thefts happen.”

Tools valued at more than $11 million were stolen statewide in the same period – a significant jump from the $7million valuation of tools stolen the previous year.

Operation Tool Safe

Melton police’s Senior Sergeant Mark Guthrie said tools stolen from work vehicles and building sites accounted for a large number of the thefts reported in the area.

“Tools are very easily on-sold so they’re very attractive to thieves.”

He said police would be speaking to tradies and their employers about the best ways to protect tools and equipment as part of Operation Tool Safe.

“The inconvenience for an individual when tools vital to their trade are stolen is horrible; it can have a real flow-on effect,” Senior Sergeant Guthrie said.

He urged tradies to park their work vehicles in locked garages, if possible; to lock and secure tool boxes that are part of ute trays; and not leave valuables or documents inside vehicles where they can be seen by passersby.