A BALLARAT tradie has been left devastated after all of his tools were stolen from a work site.
Thousands of tools are reported stolen to police in rural and regional Victoria each year, and this isn't the first time that bricklayer Adam Gillett has been a victim.
When he started his apprenticeship, his boss instilled in him that he must always lock his tools up at a construction site.
After qualifying as an apprentice, he started working on his own. On the very first job he landed, he locked up and left his tools at the site on a Friday night. Returning the following morning, he found that his tools had been stolen, despite the precautions that he took.
"Everything was gone - I had half a day of work to go and I couldn't do it. It nearly broke me," he said. "And it was the first job I ever did on my own."
Mr Gillett has continued to work hard - working seven days a week for months at a time. He now employs a number of people, and always ensures that he chains up his tools at the end of the day.
He now has a family to provide for too - a wife and three children.
It is just the lowest thing that someone can do, to steal someone's way of making money to make a better life for themselves. It is the lowest thing anyone can go out and do.- Adam Gillett
But last Friday night, his cement mixer, wheelbarrows, a brick buggie, a step ladder and even shovels were taken from a site he has been working on at Ballymanus Estate in Alfredton.
"The same as everyone I know, we lock our tools up on site and it's never usually a problem - until it is," he said.
The value of the items taken exceeds $2000. He had to pull together enough money to replace them, after discovering they were missing when he arrived at work on Monday.
While he has been a victim of a theft of this extent twice, there have also been plenty of instances over the years where smaller items have gone missing from sites across Ballarat.
Just the day before his tools were stolen, he arrived at the job site to discover hundreds of dollars worth of cement had been taken.
The thefts have hit him particularly hard, as work has slowed down due to the coronavirus pandemic, as there cannot be as many tradespeople at a site at any one time.
The financial situation has also meant he had to let go of an apprentice, as he could not afford to continue employing him.
"It is just the lowest thing that someone can do, to steal someone's way of making money to make a better life for themselves. It is the lowest thing anyone can go out and do," Mr Gillett said.
While he has really been affected by the theft and is now questioning whether he really even wants to continue working as a bricklayer, he is trying to stay strong for his family.
He doesn't know of others who have been unlucky enough to have had their tools stolen twice, but Mr Gillett said it is common for items to go missing from work sites.
He doesn't know what can be done to stop thefts from construction sites, but suggested that CCTV could be one beneficial step.
Since the theft, he has decided that he will cart all of his tools home every single night.
This will be an inconvenience, but if it means preventing becoming a victim of crime again, then he will do it.
Police are actively investigating the incident.
Leading Senior Constable Janine Walker of the Ballarat Proactive Unit said tool theft was opportunistic and urged all tradespeople to take their tools home with them at the end of the day, to prevent becoming a victim of crime.
"Taking tools home and locking them up is the best way for tradies to prevent themselves from becoming a victim of crime," she said.
Tips for tradies to keep tools safe:
- Lock all doors, external tool boxes and close the windows of vehicles before leaving it unattended, even at the work site
- Install an alarm on the toolbox, vehicle and trailer lid
- If you leave your tools in your vehicle or trailer overnight, ensure both are secure. Ideally park in a garage or secure tools left inside the vehicle with visible locks
- If you drive a ute, consider investing in a sturdy lockable toolbox and bolt it to the vehicle tray
- Engrave or mark your tools for easy identification
- Catalogue your tools, including serial numbers and images
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