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Top tips on reducing the risk of theft from vans

According to Direct Line, over £83 million worth of tools were stolen in England and Wales from 2017 to 2019. Van theft is often not reported so the figures are likely to be higher. So, how can you protect your van and your business? Read our top tips below.

Remove valuables

Tradesperson loading equipment into a van

It’s a really obvious tip, but it’s often forgotten about at the end of a long day. The number one way to protect your van and your business is to empty your van of expensive machinery and equipment and find a safe place to store them overnight. You can also place a sticker on your van that tells passers-by that you don’t store valuables in your vehicle overnight. But you need to make sure you actually remove them! This will help reduce the risk of smash and grab van theft.

Be organized

Three toolboxes in a van

Do you have a detailed inventory of the equipment and machinery you own and where you store it? If not, now’s the time to make one. List everything on a spreadsheet and take photos of all the valuables you own.

Not only is this useful for insurance claims, but it helps you to keep track of how much your business valuables are worth. It also helps you to know where your equipment is at any time and whether it could have been lost, stolen or misplaced.

Fit an additional lock or safe

Steering wheel lock to help prevent van theft

Unfortunately, crooks are getting more and more sophisticated, so simply locking your van and hoping for the best isn’t enough anymore. Install a deadlock to help reduce the risk of a break-in. It can be used independently to your van’s locking system. You could also invest in a tool safe that you store inside your van, which a great way to help protect your valuables during the day when you’re on a job.

A steering wheel lock is another low-cost option that will stop burglars going off with your van. A Thatcham-accredited one can cost between £50-£100.

Upgrade your alarm

Person fitting a vehicle alarm to reduce the risk of van theft

All modern vehicles are fitted with alarms, but some alarm systems are more effective than others. Upgrading to a Thatcham-accredited alarm can help lower the cost of your insurance and protect your van, saving you money and hassle. Find a Thatcham-accredited alarm fitter who can advise on the system you could upgrade to. The minimum for vans is Thatcham Category 2 (which includes an alarm and immobiliser) but you may be able to upgrade to 2/1 or 1.

Invest in vehicle tracking GPS

Vehicle GPS tracker to protect against van theft issues

More and more people are choosing to invest in GPS tracking as a way to protect their vehicles. If you’re thinking about buying a van GPS system, make sure it’s one approved by Thatcham. Thatcham Research is the UK’s only non-profit insurer-funded research centre for the motor insurance industry.

Remember to get your GPS system installed by a Thatcham-accredited GPS fitter too. Not only will this ensure it’s a reliable system, but it can also help with insurance claims.

Install a security camera

'CCTV in operation' sticker on the rear of a van, to helpprevent van theft

Installing a security camera won’t make it harder for burglars to break into your van. It is likely to put them off though – especially if it is visible. If you park your van in the driveway or garage of your home or business premises, consider installing an external security camera. Alternatively, install an internal security camera within your van. Even if you’re broken into, the camera may spook burglars and reduce the risk of van theft. In the worst-case scenario, it will help police identify thieves if they do take anything.

Park in a safe space

White van parked in driveway

It’s not always possible to park in a safe looking space. But, it’s important to try to do so when you’re leaving your van overnight, or when it gets dark earlier – even if it means parking a bit further away from your home or business premises. This can help reduce the risk of door peeling. Door peeling is where robbers peel back the roof, side or back doors without setting off your vehicle’s alarm or needing to break any locks. Make sure the parking spot is busy, well-lit and ideally in view of a CCTV camera. Where possible, park your van up against a wall so thieves can’t access the main door.

If you park in your own driveway or garage, make sure your gate or garage door can be securely locked. You could also install motion sensor security lights. To avoid key-fob hacking, store your keys far away from the entrance of your home or business premises.

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