Research by the Federation of Master Builders reveals an industry plagued by theft causing cost rises and project delays.
Victim Andrew Radford of Radford Construction had thousands of pounds worth of tools, PPE and a wallet stolen when a company van was broken into.
He said: “Losing the tools was a huge blow because it delayed work on site while we replaced them.
“We also had to spend a lot of time contacting our insurance company, the police and cancelling the cards.
“Also, because our builders’ merchants details were in the van, we had to set up passwords to make sure it was only company colleagues who could obtain goods on our account.”
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB said the crime wave was “wreaking havoc across the construction industry.”
He said: “Tools are being stolen from vans and direct from construction sites, with some builders even being assaulted by would-be thieves.
“Not only is there a high cost in terms of both time and money spent replacing these expensive tools, and to fix the damage caused, but without the right tools, firms are simply unable to work.
“This is leading construction firms vulnerable at a time when other factors, such as skills shortages and material price rises, are already causing the sector a headache.”
Police forces are vowing to take the problem seriously.
Sally Picker, Crime Reduction Tactical Advisor, Lincolnshire Police Service, said: “We recognise builders’ frustrations at this type of crime and its seriousness.
“We will continue to work hard to ensure that as many cases as possible are brought before the courts.
“A strong message needs to be sent to the thieves that commit these crimes so that they are left in no doubt that if they choose to commit these crimes, charges will be sought to match the emotional and financial impact that tool theft has on their victims.”