Brian Isley couldn’t find his power tools.

He was working late as a subcontractor on a residential HVAC installation and had just returned to the job-site after a break for supper.

It was early December, 2022.

“Generally when you go for lunch or supper, you leave your tools on-site,” Isley said. “Packing up your tools every time you want to go grab a bite—that doesn’t really make sense.” 

An independent general contractor, Isley lives and works in Alberta, Canada in a mid-sized town called Airdrie, about 30 minutes north of Calgary. This is where the HVAC job was, the place where his tools went missing that winter night less than a year ago. 

A talented contractor, Isley modestly describes himself as a “pretty simple dude” outside of work. When he isn’t building decks or plinking away at other projects for his friends, he can be found shooting pool in a handful of competitive leagues in the area (Mojo Billiards in Airdrie and Leather Pocket Billiards in Calgary are two of his favorite spots).

Isley has worked in the skilled trades for about 10 years now. By the time he got back to the job site in Airdrie that night, all the other contractors had left for the day. Looking around, it seemed that all of his tools were gone too.

“I’m like ‘did one of the contractors come and move them?’” he recalls thinking.

In all his time working in construction, Isley had never experienced a theft. It didn’t even occur to him at first that someone might have taken his tools. He searched the house high and low and called the builders he was subcontracting for.

“Nobody had seen them, nobody had touched them,” he said. “It turned out they were legitimately stolen.”

Earlier in the year, Isley was in the market for a new reciprocating saw. A friend of his recommended Milwaukee and Isley’s eye was immediately drawn to a high-end model of the M18 FUEL™ SAWZALL® with a feature he’d never heard of before called ONE-KEY™.

A blend of cloud based IoT and Bluetooth technology, One-Key would enable Isley to wirelessly connect with his Sawzall via the free One-Key app on his phone,  from which he could then track the tool’s physical location, customize its settings, and organize it into a digital inventory.

“I noticed the price between the One-Key and the regular FUEL was negligible,” Isley said. “So I got the One-Key Sawzall and absolutely loved all the features it had.”

The HVAC installation job in Airdrie where his tools went missing was only a little more than a week later.

“I was pretty heartbroken, man,” he said.

Once it became clear that someone had stolen his tools, Isley called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to file a report.

This is the first juncture where One-Key proved its value.

“Nobody had seen them, nobody had touched them. It turned out they were legitimately stolen.”

Opening the app, he was able to supply the officers with a comprehensive and detailed list of the tools that were missing, registered serial numbers and all. In addition to the One-Key Sawzall, the thief had made off with Isley’s hand tools as well as a standard model M18 FUEL drill, impact driver, and REDLITHIUM™ batteries. Whoever it was, they’d stolen about $1,000 worth of brand new tools.

And the prospects for getting them back seemed slim.

“The police told me ‘don’t get your hopes up. We don’t find tools’,” Isley said.

A week went by and Isley was beginning to lose hope.

“I can’t make a living without my tools,” Isley said. “That was a major setback. I’d just spent that money and I didn’t have the money to go buy new tools just because somebody took them.”

Then one day he got a ping.

It was his Sawzall. Someone with the One-Key app on their phone must have come within range and--because Isley had reported the tool stolen on his own app--broadcasted the Sawzall’s location. The pin on the map was somewhere in Okotoks, a small town in Alberta about 45 minutes south of Airdrie.

Isley wasted no time. He quickly got on the phone with the Okotoks police and explained his situation

"I had to walk them through exactly how this app works,” Isley said. “'I have proof that this tool belongs to me and I have proof that it’s in this location.'”

The RCMP officers were reluctant to take action at first, Isley said. The location information was at least a day old by the time he received it and due to the nature of how Bluetooth tracking works, the tool may have moved since then. How could they be sure the tool was still in that spot and hadn’t moved out of range in the meantime?

Frustrated, Isley began to lose hope once more. His tools were right there on the map but it wasn’t enough to convince the police to spring into action.  

“The way it works with the police, you really have to explain the One-Key product,” Isley said. “If you don’t advocate for yourself, there’s not much you can do.”

A couple days later, Isley excitedly called the police back one last time. He’d received another ping. Wherever it was in Oktoks, the Sawzall hadn’t budged from its original spot. With multiple corroborating location reports in hand, the RCMP was satisfied.

The officers quickly got a warrant and…

“They didn’t actually find my Sawzall,” Isley said.

“But they did find all my other tools.”

Isley made the trip down to Oktoks and the police gave him back his M18 FUEL drill and impact driver, along with their batteries.

“I didn’t even have One-Key on those tools, but because I had one tool that was One-Key, I was able to get them back,” he said.

The Sawzall remains missing. ‘Locked out’ in the One-Key app, it's useless to whoever has it. The trusty tool pinged on the map one last time in January, but he hasn’t seen any trace of it since.

“It’s out there somewhere,” he said with a wistful chuckle, adding that he still checks the One-Key app for it every day.