With more than 3.2 million vans used across the UK for business purposes, it’s no surprise that van theft is rife across the nation, and that many drivers are searching for ways to increase van security and avoid break-ins.
In 2016 alone, almost £95 million of damages were reported due to theft from business vans. It is by far the most common and significant danger to tradespeople at the current time, according to various surveys. So, what can you do to protect your van and its contents when you have to leave it unattended for long periods of time?
Location, location, location
It is perhaps an obvious solution, but where you park your van affects the chances of it being broken into. Consider how obvious your unattended van is on the side of the road; could someone see you have left it for a long time and chance a robbery, unnoticed by you and surrounding pedestrians or workers? Try to find the right balance between a location that’s hidden enough not to tempt thieves, but still obvious enough for surrounding people to notice a robbery and help to stop it.
Certain areas have a council or government-appointed signs dictating that: “Thieves operate in this area”, and that cars and belongings are left unattended at your own risk. If you see one of these signs, find somewhere else to park that either has a lower risk of being targeted or a higher chance of being protected.
Even if you park in a well-lit area around lots of pedestrian traffic in a supposedly friendly neighbourhood, you are still at risk of theft. Find out what kind of security systems your van has and how they are best utilised, as well as how thieves are getting around them. Ensure all locks work and windows are closed before locking up and leaving your van unattended. Do whatever you can to make it difficult for them and reduce the temptation.
Leaving your van overnight
The longest amount of time your van will be unattended is after work and overnight. Whether you leave your van on a site or on your driveway, consider emptying it of any valuables and tools before locking up for the night. If there’s nothing to steal, the worst you’ll have to deal with is replacing a broken lock, and you’ll likely be back to work before you know it. Buy a sign which indicates that the van is empty overnight to further discourage theft; a fruitless break-in attempt is a pointless one.
Following these simple, practical tips will surely help decrease chances of theft, but there is more you can do besides physical actions to increase van safety. Sharing tips with fellow tradespeople and campaigning for stronger laws/punishments are just two examples of ways to make van thefts less likely in future. Stay vigilant, stay updated, and help each other out!
Ross Hansen is a freelance content producer from Edinburgh. You can follow him on Twitter: @TheHansenRoss.