The UK Government and Parliament has responded to the petition – “Stamp Out Tool Theft with the introduction of tighter regulation & greater fines”.
The Government has no plans to amend existing legislation. However, we will continue to work with the police to explore what more can be done to tackle the stolen goods market.
The Government recognises the distress and disruption that acquisitive crime can cause and the effect it can have on victims, including the impact on people who rely on the tools of their trade to earn a living.
The Theft Act 1968 includes robust measures for dealing with crimes of theft and handling stolen goods, including tool theft. The Act provides a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment for theft and a maximum penalty of fourteen years’ imprisonment for handling stolen goods. In addition, the Act provides powers to tackle the threat of people going equipped to steal, with a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment. Therefore, the Government has no plans to amend existing legislation, including introducing minimum fines for theft offences, at this time.
Making stolen goods harder to sell on is a key part of making all forms of acquisitive crime less attractive to thieves. That is why we continue to work with the police to understand better the buying and selling ‘journey’ for a range of goods to inform what more can be done to tackle the stolen goods market.
This work will build on current police activity, which includes working with key partners such as product manufacturers, security companies and representatives from the insurance industry to make goods ‘harder to steal, harder to sell’; and encouraging the public to mark and register their property. Indeed, police forces have funded the provision of over half a million property marking kits to households across England and Wales, which has helped enable those who steal or handle stolen property to be brought to justice.
In addition, we are aware of the availability of devices that can be used to bypass vehicle security to gain entry. There are legitimate reasons for people owning such devices or other tools to help themselves or others get back into their vehicles when they have locked themselves out. While there may be a risk that criminals will use such equipment, the evidence pointing to the use of such devices in vehicle-related theft is limited and anecdotal, typically identified during the arrest or subsequent searches of a suspected offender.
However, we understand that the use of such devices is a concern. That is why we are working with partners to review whether further measures are required to stop devices that may be used to compromise vehicle security falling into criminals’ hands, and on 21 March we welcomed the launch of security ratings by Thatcham Research to help consumers better understand how vulnerable new cars are to theft.
Furthermore, consequential financial harm and the impact of theft on a business are factors which will be taken into consideration by the courts when assessing the harm suffered by the victim or others. Victims of crime have the right to make a Victim Personal Statement (VPS) to explain in their own words how a crime has affected them, whether physically, emotionally, financially or in any other way. This is always passed to the court. Similarly, businesses can provide an Impact Statement for Business (ISB) to set out impact of the crime. It does not have to be limited to the direct cost of the crime and can include wider impacts such as staff morale and reputational damage.
The court will pass what it judges to be the appropriate sentence, having regard to all the circumstances of the offence and of the offender. This will include taking into account, so far as the court considers it appropriate, the impact of the offence on the victim as set out in a VPS or ISB.
This is not a good response from the Government and certainly needs to be followed up with a greater emphasise on the penalties for tool theft. This behaviour has a direct impact on the working class and robs trades people from not only being able to work, but results in them having to replace the equipment stolen at sometimes huge costs, and results in all of their insurances increasing significantly.
Click this link to view the response online:
The Petitions Committee will take a look at this petition and its response. They can press the government for action and gather evidence. If this petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the Committee will consider it for a debate.
The Committee is made up of 11 MPs, from political parties in government and in opposition. It is entirely independent of the Government. Find out more about the Petitions Committee.