Scott Chesworth, operations director at RAM Tracking, offers his advice on how to fight against van crime.
As a tradesman, vans and their contents are essential to the ability to work. However, vans can contain valuable tools and equipment, and thieves know this. When a vehicle is stolen, there are multiple impacts on businesses, from the sheer inconvenience of being unable to work, to the emotional toll it takes. However, improvements in technology mean there are ways to prevent crimes and recover stolen property and vehicles.
Having a vehicle stolen can be a drain on time and money and affect mental state. The insurance process can be a long-winded one. Finding all the relevant data that insurance companies require can waste valuable time that could be used more productively and, there’s also no guarantee the full amount will be awarded. Smaller fleets can be heavily impacted by van crime, as it could lead to jobs being cancelled due to lack of vehicles and resources.
Plus, if a small business does not receive the full insurance amount, purchasing a new vehicle and equipment carries a significant cost burden. Overall, the experience is highly stressful. Especially if personal or sentimental items were kept in the van. However, technology could be the answer to van crime woes.
Smart alarms are a form of technology that can help fight van crime through prevention. Unlike standard vehicle alarms, smart alarms are unbearably loud. For thieves to stay in the vehicle without damaging their hearing they would need ear defenders. As well as this, once the alarm is triggered, a call comes through on mobile phones. Multiple numbers can be added to the device giving the best possible chance of alerting someone to the crime. The speed in which the call comes through allows van owners to contact the police quickly, improving the chances of the criminal being caught.
Other innovative technologies include DNA marking tools. These are traceable liquids that act as taggants, helping with recovery of stolen vehicles. They are long-lasting and contain unique identifiers, like DNA, that mark valuables, such as fleet vehicles and tools, as property of an individual. When a thief touches the liquid, it transfers onto their hands and clothes, labelling them as the person specific to the crime. The liquid can only be seen under an ultraviolet black light, so thieves are unable to avoid it. Advertising that vans and tools are covered with DNA marking tools can also act as a deterrent in itself, making them a preventative measure too.
Vehicle tracking itself is one of the best ways to recover vehicles. The GPS vehicle trackers fitted by many providers are discreet, meaning the thief may be completely unaware of the device. Therefore, tampering is not attempted, and no damage is caused to the vehicle. Being unaware that trackers are fitted also lulls criminals into a false sense of security, so they do not attempt to keep the vehicle in a secure location or away from their own property. GPS technology within vehicle trackers can pinpoint a vehicle’s location to within a few metres, allowing police to accurately follow and locate the stolen goods before they are damaged or sold on.
Many providers now offer mobile apps which give instant access to this information, even when on the go, as long as there is internet available. As a result, action can be taken to locate the vehicle as soon as it is reported missing, even if the owner is abroad. Having a vehicle stolen can be highly detrimental to tradesmen. Without the vehicle, and the tools contained within it, day-to-day jobs cannot be carried out, impacting the business’ productivity levels and finances. It may be impossible to stop thefts altogether but investing in technology can go a long way towards prevention and recovery.