Deterring the theft of tools from vans

You may have heard in the news recently that there has been a huge rise in theft from vans of tools and expensive equipment. As many trades are fully aware, tools and expensive items are the lifeblood of any business and without them businesses can and do fail.

It is reckoned that a van is broken into in the UK once every 20 minutes or so, that’s 72 van thefts per day and the BBC, in figures obtained from the police, state there has been a 60-70% rise in theft in the last two years.

Most people in all trades are stating that it has grown to become an epidemic and it certainly would seem that way, with many posts on social media from heartbroken trades persons asking for help in recovering their stolen property. With the police having ever decreasing budgets and strained resources, its next to impossible for any of the stolen tools to ever have a hope of being recovered. Most of them end up being sold on at car boot sales or sold on the black market or even taken abroad.

There are generally two types of van thefts occurring in the UK at present, the first is when your van side or rear doors are crow-barred open and the second is when a skeleton key is utilised to pick the lock. Either way your tools are now gone and usually in seconds. Its rare that a van theft lasts more than 30 seconds and it’s usually the case another car or van draws up alongside yours, while a team of thieves wrench open your van and unload it all into theirs and then they are gone.

The first style of theft can leave thousands of pounds worth of damage to your van meaning replacement doors and if they have been particularly brutal, repairs to the structural bodywork surrounding them. This can even lead to write off and will certainly add to your insurance renewal.

The second style of theft is increasingly being carried out by cheap tools readily available on sites such as eBay and other online stores, in the UK there are no constraints, standards or laws to prevent anyone from purchasing skeleton keys and using them for burglaries and van thefts and this is an increasing concern, as well as being frightening for not only traders but also the general public.

The average van theft costs in the region of £1750 in stolen tools, £1000 in van damage, £200 in increased insurance costs, £400-750 in lost takings and many hours in anxiety and stress for the trader as well as their families, who need to be fed and kept warm.

There are steps you can take to deter van theft and I have listed some of them below:

  • Always have a tracker fitted to your van.
  • Security mark all your tools with either a UV pen or some form of security marking system like smartwater.
  • Always park your van in a well lit area off the road and near your house if possible.
  • Rig up CCTV looking on your van so its always being recorded overnight.
  • Add a Portable CCTV system to your van.
  • Always use a dash-cam. This can record traffic around you in case you get walled in and a theft occurs.
  • Always drive with your doors locked.
  • Always lock your van when you are away from it.
  • Don’t leave the van doors open so people can see what’s in it, try to employ some form of flexible screen on your door openings.
  • Always purchase a van without windows if possible.
  • Always upgrade your vans alarm system, don’t rely on the factory alarm system unless its really good. Get a Thatcham approved system.
  • Have internal security bars fitted to the inside of your van, if a thief cuts open your van they are faced with another obstacle.
  • Always chain down and lock any tools and always keep toolboxes locked.
  • Have a professional locksmith fit approved high security and additional locks to the weak points on your doors, this helps prevent them being peeled open with crowbars.
  • Always remove the most valuable equipment from your van overnight and into a safe secure area in your home or business premises.
  • Never leave your van running unattended, this is illegal anyway.

Taking these steps and can prevent and deter thieves from trying to access your van and steal your valuable tools. If you are interested in having additional high security locks fitted to your van or commercial vehicle to provide additional deterrence give me a call on 01473 209296 or 07809 776486 today and I will advise you on the best course of action.

You can read more about the rise of van theft on the BBC at

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