Local MP John Lamont has called for a clamp down on vehicle tool theft following a number of incidents in the Scottish Borders.
The loss of a van or its contents is a significant blow to tradespeople because as well as having to replace the equipment, they lose out on business. Recent statistics show that there were 3,700 cases of a theft from a motor vehicle in Scotland last year but that only 16% of these cases were cleared up by the police.
A custodial sentence can be served but in practice in Scotland, the majority of those convicted of theft from a motor vehicle avoid a custodial sentence and the average prison sentence handed out is only 6 months.
A petition to the UK Parliament, which seeks a change in the law in England has attracted more than 30,000 signatures.
After being contacted by a constituent about this issue, John Lamont MP has written to the Scottish Government’s Justice Secretary to urge him to strengthen the law to tackle van theft and van tool theft.
The move comes after a spate of thefts in the Scottish Borders, including an incident in Duns when equipment and items worth four figures were stolen from a van.
Commenting John Lamont MP said: “For a self-employed tradesperson, having a van broken in to and tools stolen is a huge blow.
“Not only does it mean making being out of pocket, even if an insurance policy pays out, but it also means that during the time it takes to get this all sorted, that person is not earning any money. All too often it can mean the end of the person’s business.
“This seems to be an issue which is on the rise and it is certainly something which affects tradespeople in the Borders.
“Given that so few cases of theft from motor vehicles go unpunished in Scotland and if they do, offenders are more likely than not to avoid a custodial sentence it is little wonder that opportunistic thieves are having a go.
“As well as making sure the police have the time and resources to investigate these incidents, I think it is time that the law is strengthened to get the message out that this type of behaviour simply isn’t acceptable.”