AN angry carpenter who has had £12,000 worth of equipment stolen in FOUR separate raids on his van is calling for tougher action to target tool thieves.

Alan Plumb, from Silver End, says each time he reported the thefts to the police, he was given a crime reference number but no further action was taken.

The frustrated workman, whose career as a carpenter has spanned 45 years, was last targeted in September when thieves smashed their way into his van while it was parked on his driveway.

"To say it's frustrating is an understatement, it's heartbreaking really," he said.

"Last time they broke a window, even though my van was parked up against the garage door.

"It was as well-secured as I could make it.

"By the time we went to work in morning I found it pushed up the drive with all the doors left open.

"Every time I have reported it and received a crime reference number, but within days the case is closed."

Mr Plumb says items typically stolen include nail guns and battery tools, of well-known brands including Bosch and Paslode.

"Some of these nail guns on their own can be worth £500," he said.

"I had four nicked last time."

Detectives launched Operation Guard last month to tackle a rise in thefts from cars and vans in Braintree, Halstead and Chelmsford.

Many of the goods targeted by thieves are understood to be tools and a spike in the number of incidents led to increased patrols across mid Essex to ease concerns.

But Mr Plumb says tradesman such as himself still face a "major problem."

"This happens all the time, every single day in Essex someone somewhere is having their tools stolen," he said. "Nearly every guy I've worked with has had tools stolen.

"It is more prevalent now than it ever has been in the past, because the tools are worth that much.

"They know the payoff is greater than the risk they are taking.

"I was insured last time and the company paid out, I went to insure the items again and of course it's gone up astronomically.

"You lose work, you lose a day's money here and there by not having the tools you need.

"I have known people who have had tools stolen, replaced them, and the following night they are stolen again.

"It will never stop while they are making easy money and are getting away with it.

"If someone went into a bank and demanded thousands of pounds it would be taken very seriously, but because it's my personal tools and my personal van it doesn't seem to be noticed.

"It is major crime.

"I have been trying to contact Braintree CID after a report in last week's Times regarding tool recovery, but we have been unable to speak to anyone."

An Essex Police spokesman said: "We’re sorry that this man has been unable to get hold of our detectives investigating a case involving a number of instances where items have been stolen from vehicles to see whether his stolen items may have been recovered.

"The officer leading the investigation has been sent this man’s details to make contact with him.

"Cases where items have been taken from vehicles can be difficult to investigate when there are no forensic opportunities and no CCTV. Essex has seen a reduction in the numbers of these crimes which have been reported to us but even one victim is one too many.

"Our advice to motorists would be not to leave any valuable items in their vehicles at any time.

"Further crime prevention advice can be found on our website:"