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Reuniting tradespeople with their tools

Following a large recovery of stolen power tools in February, Thames Valley Police is appealing for victims to get in touch as part of Operation Appleton, in the hope of reuniting them with their stolen tools. Six men were arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods who have been released under investigation.


More than 2,000 power tools were recovered, these included power drills, routers and impact drivers. The tools were recovered on 2 February so if your tools were stolen after this date, they will not be part of this operation.

Detectives working on the investigation into the theft now have a complete list of the tools and serial numbers from those recovered. Victims that they have been able to locate have come from within the Thames Valley as well as from 16 other police force areas including Kent, Avon & Somerset and Norfolk.

Operation Appleton lead, Detective Sergeant Shay Harper, said: “I am pleased to be in a position to reunite these tools with their rightful owners. My team and I have worked hard over the past few months to identify owners of these tools in a number of ways including checks of national databases and crime reports from across the country. However, with a number of tools carrying unique but unregistered marks on them, I believe there are a number of people out there who would recall these marks, enabling us to reunite them."
“I urge anyone who owns tools whether they’re kept in a van, garage or shed, to mark them and make a note of the serial numbers. This could be just by taking a photo of them but preferably by registering them on a national database, as this helps us prove ownership when we make seizures of stolen items.”

The Metropolitan Police Service MetTrace Central Team were contacted to assist with their extensive knowledge around SmartWater in an attempt to return the tools to their rightful owners. On Tuesday 10th July 2018 the team travelled to Bletchley Police Station in TVP and met with DS Harper. The team of 4 lead by Ps Paul Fagg attended and approximately 2000 power tools were scanned using UV torches. A number of hand tools were found with some form of forensic marking on, including SmartWater. TVP have these items and will be progressed further. This again highlights the importance of marking property using forensic property marking schemes to increase the chances of victims getting their property back.

More information

To be able to reunite you with your tools, you will need to provide a crime reference number for the theft and proof of ownership. This could be the serial numbers, identifying marks or distinguishing features of your tools. Many of the tools that have been recovered have identifying marks on them such as people’s names or nicknames.
If you believe that your tools may be part of this operation, please contact with your crime reference number, the date your tools were stolen and details of your tools, including serial numbers, identifying marks or distinguishing features. We are expecting a large number of enquiries but anyone making contact will receive a response.