With more builders getting back to work this week, Charles Stubbings from Moneybarn has some advice on keeping your tools – and van – safe.
The UK construction industry has been advised to start returning to work, so the locked-up vans and tools will finally be getting some use.
Over 32,000 vans have been reported stolen in the UK since 2015 – with the latest figures showing a 45 per cent increase in thefts on 4 years ago.
On top of the rise in commercial vehicle thefts, the contents of vans are often also targeted. Analysis by the ECIC shows tool theft from vans has jumped 55% in the last year.
To help keep your vehicle and its contents safe, Moneybarn has put together a handy guide on how to deter thieves and protect your valuables during lockdown.
While it may sound obvious, basics like leaving van windows open could be the difference between keeping your tools safe and kissing goodbye to your money.
Make sure you understand what your insurance policy covers you against. For example, most plans don’t pay out for theft if your doors weren’t locked – so, if you know this applies to you, make an extra effort to check your van’s locked whenever you leave it unattended.
When it comes to keeping your van safe, your parking space can make all the difference.
Ideally park in a garage, however, if that’s not possible, find a well-lit public area. Anywhere visible and monitorable is best for your vehicle.
Parking somewhere remote and unlit allows opportunist thieves to break-in undetected.
Vehicle thieves rarely act by chance and typically have the skills to start the engine and make a getaway in seconds.
For extra protection, get a steering wheel lock. By simply clicking the device onto your van’s steering wheel overnight, you could stop carjackers driving away with your vehicle.
Installing an immobiliser is also recommended and is estimated to cut vehicle thefts by 40 per cent. The device prevents thieves from taking off with your van as they stop the engine running unless a corresponding fob or token is present.
Plus, installing a GPS device means you can keep track of your vehicle’s whereabouts if the worst happens.
One of the most valuable parts of a van is its catalytic converter – worth as much as £4,000 per ounce for the right material. And van thieves tend to know exactly which models to target.
The number of catalytic converter thefts in certain areas has almost doubled since 2018. And vans are a prime target thanks to their higher ground distance, making it easier for criminals to crawl underneath.
Catalytic converters are expensive to replace, costing over £260 on average. So, it’s worth investing in a catalytic converter alarm. This detects if the catalytic converter is being tampered with, scaring off potential criminals.
Like home burglars, van thieves will likely have scoped out your vehicle for valuables before attempting to break in.
So, where possible, remove all tools and valuables from your vehicle.
However, if you simply have too much to transport or need to leave your van parked for a long stay, tinted windows will block the view into your van. Van safes and storage boxes also add an extra layer of protection to your valuables.
Leave your mark
Although no one wants their vehicle stolen, losing a trade van is a double whammy – affecting your personal life and your business too.
One way of deterring tool thieves is marking your tools, making them easier to trace if they try to sell them on. Engraving is one option, giving your items permanent personalisation.
Alternatively, SmartWater is recommended as not only a deterrent but also as a way of tracing thieves who’ve made off with your belongings.