Do you trust your fellow tradies?

Take a minute and try to imagine how much better work would be if you didn’t have to worry about other people stealing your tools. Honestly think about it, you wouldn’t have to pack up every time you have smoko or lunch or every time you use the toilet. You had complete trust in the people around you and know that they would not steal your tools when you’re gone!

Unfortunately, this is not the case and every time you leave the place where you are working you have to pack up your tools, or take a punt, cross your fingers and hope no one steals them.

The Problem

The problem with batteries and chargers is when you plug them into the power station to charge you can’t always keep an eye on them. On most job sites the PowerStations are set up in convenient locations so that everyone on that floor or area can access them, but this means they are set up in busy locations like lift lobbies and hallways. With hundreds of people on site each day and minimal security measures in place, things tend to go walkabouts.

Now My Problem

I for one believe this system is flawed, you can’t simply trust the people around you and hope for the best! That’s not good enough. If you are a victim of battery theft in the past, then I do feel sorry for you because I too know the pain! Here are a few tips I learnt during my 9 years of experience working on commercial job sites in Sydney:

Now this isn’t any ground-breaking state of the art technology and I’m sure you have seen this on job sites before, but it is a good reminder and may be useful for any apprentices reading. If you don’t have an engraver at home you can purchase one here. Once you have the engraver you should engrave either your full name or initials onto the skin of the tools.

1. Engrave your battery and charger

I cannot stress enough that every time you purchase a new tool you should engrave it as soon as you are able to.  A problem that I found was that any time I delayed engraving my tools I would end up forgetting about it and carry on with my work so it’s important to do it as soon as you can.  

A thief is going to have a lot of explaining to do when he is trying to sell tools that have someone else’s name on it so for this reason alone thieves try to stay away from engraved tools. Sharpies are okay but they are not enough, anyone can rub that off with a strong enough cleaner.

this image provides an example of how and engraved tool and battery should look like.
Highlighted by the orange circles above you can see my name "PAT P". It's important that you engrave your name clearly, big and placed consistently throughout your tools.

Here is a short video full of tips for engraving your tools

2. Spray paint all of your tools.

Once again nothing new here, but this is a good option, nonetheless. The reason why I like this one so much is that it’s nice and cheap, all you need is spray paint. Find a colour that suits you, go and ask your boss, your wife and your closest friends ‘Does this colour look good on me?’ If it’s a unanimous decision then go for it.

The trick here is to rough up your tools to make them look like you wouldn’t want to purchase them off some dodgy bloke off the internet, the older and more damaged they look they more likely they won’t be stolen.

Another benefit is that your tools are now easily recognisable for you so you don’t accidentally take someone else’s which can also happen, as popular brands of tools i.e. Milwaukee and Makita are very common.

Here is a photo of my tool spray painted to act as a deterrent for theft.
Highlighted in the orange circles above is where I have spray painted my tool skin and battery so other people know that they belong to me. The trick here is to spray paint all of your tools the same colour and the same place if you can i.e. handles or the base of the tool.

3. Charge your batteries at home

This is a good option for people that have an extensive collection of batteries (8+) and it’s probably the best way to keep your battery and charger safe. This is also a good one due to the little to no costs involved, all you need to do is take your flat batteries home after work each day and charge them. Obviously, you need to remember to take them back the next day.

If for some reason they still manage to go missing, then your partner has some explaining to do! The only problem with this is the nuisance of physically taking them to and from work each day and remembering to do so.

4. Charge your batteries at home

As previously mentioned, the problem is that you have to leave your battery on charge at the designated charging station, often far away from where you are working, where you can’t keep an eye on it. One idea that I’ve seen work well on a few job sites is to run a power lead from the power station to your toolbox or working area and charge it where you can see it.

It’s not as easy as it sounds, however, when running a lead you need to make sure its appropriately tagged and elevated from the floor eliminating any trip hazards. Check out Adept Direct, they are an Australian company that specialises in electrical safety-based products. This is an annoying process, to say the least, especially if your box is far away from where you’re working. Keep in mind you will also have to pack up your lead each day if you don’t want to run the risk of theft.

5. The Batloc Box.

Some of you might think I’m being a little biased on this one, but I couldn’t make a list of 5 ways to protect your battery and charger without mentioning our product! This is a brilliant way to protect your battery and charger because you can now charge your batteries anywhere you want on-site, meaning you don’t have to take anything home or run a lead to your desired location.

Batloc offers the tradie physical protection with the tough plastic box that you can lock up using your own unique 3-digit code. If you would like to learn more about this product then check out the Batloc website for more information.

6. Record the serial numbers on all the tools you buy.

I know it’s a top 5 list but I thought I better add this one, it’s not a deterrent because there is no noticeable prevention in place, but if you write down your serial numbers in an excel spreadsheet, then you have a much better chance of tracking them down your tools if they are stolen. Companies like Track’em, Techno Source and Share My Toolbox specialise in tool tracking and inventory stocktake. 

It’s easy to assume that once your tools are stolen they would end up at the nearest cash converters, which in some cases would be true. But Unfortunately, it’s now easier than ever to sell stolen goods online with little to no repercussions for the thief. There is little that you can do to protect your tools from being sold online.

This was a list of 5 (well, actually 6) ways that I personally have tried or have seen others use to prevent battery theft. I hope you enjoyed it, Please comment below if you have a way to minimalize theft of the job site.