van tools stolen
The self-employed plumber lost thousands of pounds worth of equipment
van tools stolen

A self-employed plumber has described the moment he caught thieves in the act stealing more than £5,000 worth of tools from his van.

The 29-year-old, who has asked not to be named, was woken up in the early hours of the morning on Monday last week by his van alarm going off while it was parked on his driveway in Brailsford, near Ashbourne.

He dashed to a window and shouted to two men who were at the back of his van. They responded with a swear word before jumping back into their car and driving away.

The van owner went down to inspect his vehicle and found the thieves had cut a hole by the lock to gain entry.

They had then stolen a box filled with a collection of valuable tools that had taken around 10 years to build up. 

The tool box was later found dumped in Allestree and has since been returned, but the tools were gone and the tradesman has since spent  hundreds of pounds replacing them to enable him to carry on working.

He said: "I couldn't believe it when I jumped out of bed and ran to my landing window, there was someone in the back of my van. I opened the window and shouted 'Oi' and they ran off shouting back at me.

"It's a different category of person, it really is. It's taken me 10 years to build up my collection of tools and then they're gone just like that."

The father-of-two was due to travel to London at 4.30am that day to work on a job he had lined up. He had paid £400 for accommodation and also lost out on the day's wage.

He says the theft of his tools is now having a dramatic effect on his work plans, as he has had to re-arrange jobs and put things back while he sorts out the mess and replaces his tools.

He said: "It's the knock-on effect, it's had a big impact. It's a nightmare.

"You pay good money to live in a nice place and you don't expect this.