Philadelphia police warn that crooks are targeting vehicles for tools

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Scott McBride does home improvement projects and hauls around pricey equipment. He is always on alert.

But McBride says one theft could put him out of business.

"Oh, I am done. I am out of business if enough key tools are stolen. I am finished. I buy professional tools," McBride said.

If you work with tools, Philadelphia police have a warning: don't leave them in plain sight.

Officers in the 3rd District say crooks are on the prowl. They say since the beginning of the year, there have been 15 to 20 reports of thieves targeting vehicles in South Philadelphia and stealing tools.

"Any vehicle - that is what we looked at - it wasn't necessarily work vans or contractor's vehicles or construction vehicles. It was private, personal vehicles," said Captain Sekou Kinebrew with the Philadelphia Police Department.

It didn't take long to find workers who were victims of the crime. The thefts impact their business and take money from their pockets.

"People are just trifling. If they want tools, they just take them and then sell them," said J.R from South Philadelphia. "They are taking it out on the working man. They always want to go for something easy. You take a man's drill or something, he's done," said Robert White with Colonial Construction.

Investigators say thieves are likely selling the tools or scrapping the metal. Officers remind everyone to keep their vehicles locked and valuables out of sight.

Once they are stolen, recovering your tools may not be an option.

"Sometimes it is difficult, specifically if there are no identifiers on it, like a handheld tool, a saw or a hammer. Those are a little bit difficult. The power tools, we have some success - they may have some serial numbers," said Captain Kinebrew.
Those hauling around tools daily say there is only so much they can do but they will keep their guard up.

"You just hide it under a drop cloth or anything you can hide it under and make sure it is locked up," said Larry Evans with Colonial Construction

"Well, I take everything out of the bed for sure, but I what I try to do is park as close as possible which is tough around here, but try to make sure everything is locked. It is really the best you can do," McBride Said.

Police are actively investigating the crimes. They say if you see something, say something.

Officers are also asking anyone with a home security system to register with their Safe Cam Program. You will only be contacted by the Philadelphia Police Department in the future if there is a criminal incident in the vicinity of your security camera.

Police personnel, if necessary, may request a copy of any video captured by your camera, which may assist in the investigation of a crime.

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