Protect Your Tools



Nobody wants to have their tools stolen. Like many people you probably have spent thousands of dollars over the years buying tools as you need them and eventually you will probably own all the tools you need for most projects. If you are a tradesman your tools are even more important. Without tools, you may not be able to work. If you can’t work, then you have no money to buy new tools. It’s a vicious cycle that can leave you broke, depressed, and without any tools at all. A sad state for anyone. 

Tools are one of the most commonly stolen items because they are easily sold. (think flea markets, pawnshops, and eBay) So, what can you do to protect your tools? Plenty. Read on to learn a few ways to keep your tools from getting stolen.

Lock Up Your Tools

It seems obvious, but it’s also really easy to forget. Always lock up tools when you aren’t using them. Oftentimes when tools are stolen it’s a crime of opportunity. They see tools left unattended and walk away with them. This is true whether you are working at a Jobsite as a professional contractor or just fixing up things around the house. When you put your tools down, put them back in the toolbox or bag, lock them up, or if you know you’ll need them again shortly, leave them where you can keep an eye on them. Always be aware of the people around you. Keep those tools close to you or locked up if you are working in a crowded area or with people you don’t know.

contractor with truckload of tools

Don’t Leave Tools in Your Truck

At the end of your workday, don’t leave your tools in your truck or car. The police reports are full of thefts from vehicles. Or even worse, they steal a truck with all the tools in it. If you rely on your tools in order to work every day but you can only park your truck on the street or an easily accessible driveway, it’s worth the extra effort to unload your truck and bring all your tools into your home every evening. This way if someone steals your truck, you still have your tools and if they just break into your truck they won’t get much of value and you can still work. If you have a garage, park your truck in there and make sure it’s locked up tight for the night.

Lock Your Garage or Basement

Most people keep their tools in the garage or the basement or maybe some tools in the garage and the rest in the basement. Either way, make sure you lock up that area securely. In the suburbs, theft from open garages is quite common. Parking a truckload of expensive tools in an open garage isn’t much more secure than leaving it parked on the street. If you must do this, then unload your most valuable tools into the house. If you keep your tools in the basement, then make sure the windows and doors leading down there are secure. Use window locks and deadbolts on any doors that lead directly outdoors.

Locked tool chest

Use a Tool Locker

A great way to add more security to your garage or basement is to use a tool locker. It’s usually a large metal cabinet that can be locked. Or it can just be a large tool chest that also locks up. Just make sure it’s not small enough to walk away with like a handheld toolbox. While it can’t hurt to put a padlock on your toolbox, if they can just pick it up and walk away with it, it’s not much help. We’re talking here about locking up your tools in a tool chest that is too big for one person to lift easily. If it’s got wheels, you might consider locking those to make sure it can’t just be rolled away. If you’re on a budget, a cabinet or closet that you can put a lock on will do the job. 

Chain Them Up

If you have tools that are only going to be used in a certain small area, you can attach a chain to them, so they can be freely used within that area, but can’t leave the area. This can be complicated and even dangerous with power tools. Nobody wants to be using a power saw when it accidentally tries to cut through a chain. But chains can also be quite practical under other circumstances.

Get New Tools That Can Be Locked via an App

There are some new tools out there that can communicate with a mobile app. The app can be used to track the tool’s location as well as lock them down if they go missing. These new tools can be pretty expensive on top of what tools usually cost, so we understand if that’s out of your budget. If you do buy these, you need to let thieves know. These are such new innovations that most thieves aren’t even aware they exist. Make sure there are signs (in multiple languages, depending on where you are located) that tell everyone these tools will be worthless if stolen.

Remove Batteries and Chargers

Most thieves steal tools with the expectation that they can be sold quickly on the black market. Power tools that can’t be turned on because there’s no battery or that have a battery but no charger are worth considerably less. The buyer will need to already own a charger or be prepared to go out and buy one. That cuts into the thief’s profits. They’d rather steal the power tool with the battery and charger all at once. So by removing batteries and chargers and locking them up separately from the tools you reduce the resale value of your tools. It might not be enough to prevent theft, but it does help.

Mark Your Tools

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to protect your tools is to mark them in a very obvious and permanent fashion. This can have several advantageous results. First, it makes the tool look ugly, which lowers the resale value. Second, it makes clear that the tool is likely stolen. If the cops come to talk to you and see tools clearly marked as some else’s property, they will probably arrest you on the spot because there’s not much arguing you can do if you are in possession of someone else’s tools that have been reported as stolen. Nobody will want to buy such tools from a thief. Here are a few ways you can mark your tools.


You can rent or buy a handheld engraving device pretty easily. Just ask around. Someone might have one they are willing to loan you. Engrave your name or the name of your company and an identifying number on them, such as a serial number that you have written down and stored elsewhere. Most tools come with a serial number on them already, so you can just write that down and the police might be able to use it to return your tools to you if they ever catch the thief. (That’s always a big if) But the point here is to make sure the thief sees the markings before they consider stealing them. Make it big and ugly and on more than one side of the device.
There are also laser engravers that can do a really nice job of it, too.

Laser engraving


Use a permanent paint that won’t flake off after a few months. Make a large mark in an obnoxious color and do the same to all your tools, so it’s clear these are yours. You can paint your name on them or just make big ugly splash marks on them. Take pictures of them in case they are stolen, so they are easy to identify if recovered. Thieves will see these and know they will get little or nothing if they try to sell them, so they’ll probably just move on and steal someone else’s tools.


There are a number of companies that sell small Bluetooth or GPS trackers that can be attached to any item for the purpose of tracking down lost or stolen items. These are commonly used for keys and luggage, but can also be attached to tools. Be careful with these as they can be removed from the tools if they are spotted, which renders them useless. Also, look into the tracking. Some trackers can only find the Bluetooth tracker if it’s within a few yards, others can use GPS to tell you where it is from almost anywhere. The GPS is better, but it costs more.

Get Security Cameras 

Security cameras will show you what happened after the theft or during if you are watching the video feed. But they won’t prevent a determined crook from actually stealing your tools. However, prominent signs saying that the premises are under constant video surveillance will do the trick. Very few thieves will steal anything if they think they will be captured in the act on video. You can get video cameras installed through Affordable Home Security. They can make sure all your tools in your garage, basement, or workshop are under continual 24/7 video surveillance. They can even set it up so you can view the video at any time on your phone from anywhere. There’s nothing better than the peace of mind you get knowing your home, your family, and your tools are always safe.


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