Stay a step ahead of the criminals - how to prevent van and tool theft

Stay a step ahead of the criminals - how to prevent van and tool theft

Stay a step ahead of the criminals - how to prevent van and tool theft
11 November 2020

Van and tools theft is spiking in the UK

Tool theft is growing in the UK with the statistics indicating that 98% of businesses are highly concerned about stolen tools and vans. Van thefts have tripled in recent years and as an estimate, a van is broken into every 23 minutes. We've heard plenty of stories from our customers of tools being stolen from the back of their van and you can only imagine the effect it has had on them, especially for sole traders and small businesses relying on a van for their job. Stolen tools or damaged vans in most cases mean days or even weeks of missed work.


Don't become a victim

Your insurance will cover your costs if you're a victim to vehicle or equipment theft, but why would you have to deal with all this hassle to replace the van or tools when you can prevent it being stolen in a first place? Vehicle security should be the top priority especially when it comes to commercial vehicles because they are a lifeblood of the business. Thieves always look for the simplest way to get to your van and tools so don't make stealing from you easy for them.  There is a big chance that having realised that your van is too difficult to break into they might move on.


Our 10 top tips for keeping your van and tools safe

1. Prioritise security when choosing your van leasing deal

When you are looking for a van to lease, there is a lot to consider and while there are a lot of options that you need to look into, not many put the vehicle security on their priority list. Most modern vans that we have on our van leasing offer come with a good range of security features but make sure that the van you're looking to lease has the right kit. Not every van comes with every security feature and sometimes you'll need to add the ones that you want in your vehicle as an extra or go for a higher trim. The standard security we advise that you request for your van is an alarm and immobiliser, while deadlocks and separate locking systems for the cabin and cargo area are also highly recommended.

Think about the configuration of your new van. While the glazed rear door is useful for visibility they allow everybody to see what's inside the van, and hence can be a risk for your vehicle's security. Most of our van leasing deals come with a double rear door as standard so consider if you really need to access the load area from both sides before adding the extra side door. Many of our commercial panel vans also have a solid bulkhead separating the cab from the load which keeps everything out of sight, however, double-check what vans are available and if it comes with this feature as some lower-trim models and crew vans have steel mesh bulkheads or even tough plastic in some cases.


2. Modify the van deal to your needs

Did you know you can add a few things to your business van lease to boost your vehicle's security? There are a number of physical security extras for commercial vehicles to suit different business needs. Lockable toolboxes for expensive equipment, upgraded deadlocks or slam locks for doors will make it harder for the thieves to steal your tools, while steering lock or pedal box protectors will help make your van more difficult to drive away.


3. Invest in the latest security technology

If you're looking to lease a new van, most will come with an alarm and immobiliser as standard. We strongly advise that you check that these systems are at least Thatcham Category 2 approved, which means that an immobiliser has been fitted. Category 1 systems offer even better security with an immobiliser and an alarm, and also additional sensors detecting glass breaking or any unusual vehicle movement. If you want even more security, then you can add a vehicle tracking device to your van deal. Electronic GPS trackers can not only give a better chance of finding your stolen vehicle using multiple systems and even alerting the police when your van gets stolen but also can lower your insurance premiums when fitted to your van. They can be pricey to install and you'd need to pay a monthly subscription but the peace of mind may be worth it.


4. Look into physical security devices

There are plenty of affordable solutions that will help you keep your van safe. These are covered by Thatcham's category 3 and include immobilisation devices that are mechanical, not electric. There are heavy-duty wheel locks, hand brake locks, lockable fuel caps, and you can also apply a plastic window tint that will keep the smashed window in place rather than break up. You can also go for Thatcham's Category 4 devices, like locking wheel nuts. All these are generally easy to install and remove but should give a hard time for thieves.

Another cheap option is adding stickers saying that there aren't any tools left in the van overnight.


5. Lock your van

This may be the obvious one but all these security measurements will only make sense if you actually use it. Lock your van even if you're just going to pay for fuel. Thieves don't need to be asked twice if they see an opportunity. Check that all your windows are closed and doors are locked every time you leave your van and if you're leaving it for longer, then use all those extra vehicle security that you've invested in. 


6. Don't leave items on display

Even leaving a bag with nothing inside it on the top of the dashboard could tempt a thief and though they'll get away with nothing, you still might be left with a broken window or damaged door. Not worth the risk.

7. don't leave your tools in the van overnight

This is the time when the criminals are on the hunt for opportunities so if it's possible, take your tools home with you. It is a hassle and might not prevent thieves from breaking into your van but at least they won't take your valuable tools.  Consider getting a lockable, portable chest or wheeled job box to make this task easier.

If you can't take your tools with you, it's worth keeping an inventory of what you carry in case the worst happens. It's also worth marking valuable equipment using a watermark system that registeres the items on central database, which will help in returning them to you if they get recovered.  Always keep receipts when purchasing new tools in case you need to make an insurance claim.


8. Don't hang your van keys by the front door

The easiest way to steal your van is to have the keys - obvious. Did you know that thieves use coat hangers to fish the keys through a letterbox? Never leave the keys on display or within easy reach.


9. It matters where you park

Thieves don't like to be disturbed, so they choose to operate in dark, quiet spots and that's exactly where you don't want to park your van. The best place to park your vehicle is in a busy, well-lit area. It would be even better if there's a CCTV covering the parking spot. If you park your van at home or at work, you can also add motion-detecting security lights, lockable gates or rising bollards as well as the cameras that can be connected to your wi-fi and stream images directly into your PC or mobile device - these can be set to start recording when they detect a movement.


10. Make your staff aware of van security

If you're a fleet manager, make sure that all your staff sticks to the same routine when it comes to van security - even the most expensive security features won't help if not used correctly. If other people will be using your van, then make sure that they know about all these security devices and how to use them.


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