Each year, around 47,000 commercial vehicles are the victims of van theft in the UK. Taking the correct security precautions will help reduce the risk of your van becoming one of them, and it may also be necessary to validate your insurance.
What security features are required for your van?
The level of security required will often depend on your industry or the type of job a van will be used for. Equally, it can also be worth checking whether your vehicle has any known manufacturer specific security weaknesses. You may also be interested in making your vehicle as secure as possible.
The basic steps you can take to help prevent vehicle theft
Always lock your van when it’s unattended
It may seem obvious, but a locked van can be the difference between receiving an insurance pay-out or not. After locking your van, try opening one of your doors to see if it has worked.
Be careful not to advertise what might be inside your van
What you put on the side of your van gives a common thief a good idea of what’s inside it. Organised thieves may even start to target vans with the same livery. Where your van contains particularly expensive equipment, it may be that you choose to have an unmarked van.
Don’t leave behind valuables or any signs of them
Forgetting to hide or remove any valuables from your vehicle is an open invitation to thieves. Signs of gadgets like satnav wires or holders might be all that’s needed for them to break into your vehicle. Frustratingly, even if they do not walk away with any valuables, this can leave you with a damaged vehicle and costly repairs.
Remove expensive tools and equipment from your vans
Leaving expensive equipment in your van is a risk. You can invest in secure toolboxes to make it tricky for thieves to break into them or remove, but this may not stop a thief from making off with them altogether.
Keep your keys out of reach and sight
If you leave keys within reach, you will be making it easy for thieves to take or clone them. Here are three common methods that thieves use:
- Using a hook or pole through an ajar window or letterbox to snatch your keys.
- Breaking into your property to get them, especially if they are visible from outside.
- Using a key cloning device - if your keys are in sight they are likely to be in the range of these devices.
Keeping your keys out of sight and reach (and preferably locked away) will reduce the risk of theft. Placing your keys in a signal blocking wallet or case can block the signal of any key cloning device and help reduce the risk of theft.
Using stickers as a visual deterrent
Stickers can act as a low-cost visual deterrent to thieves. You may have seen vehicles on the road with the messaging “No valuables are left in this vehicle overnight” or “This vehicle is fitted with a GPS tracking device”, as some examples of this.
Making your vehicle more secure with security add-ons
Choosing the right locks for the job
Locks can be an extra obstacle for thieves to overcome and/or a visual deterrent. Different locks can be chosen to strike a balance between convenience and security.
Ideal for: Multi-drops and delivery drivers
If constantly having to lock your van would slow down your job or if you are prone to forgetting to do so, slam locks could solve this problem. The lock is engaged as soon as you close the door.
Ideal for: Leaving your van parked outside overnight
If you will be leaving a van parked outside, unattended for long periods of time, or in an insecure area, deadlocks are an additional layer of security. Even if thieves find a way to beat your vehicle’s standard lock, they would still need to overcome the deadlock.
Ideal for: As an alternative to the deadlock
Often seen as an alternative to Dead Locks, the locking mechanism of a hook lock is a ‘hook’ that latches onto the keep. Effectively, the hook lock provides more protection against your van doors being forced open.
Anti-drill guards and door handle protectors
Ideal for: Any vehicle that requires added security
Through offering additional protection for a vulnerable lock barrel or handle, they help to prevent forced entry and are another barrier for would-be thieves.
Steering wheel locks
Ideal for: Any vehicle that requires added security
They are quick to install, can be stored away easily, and act as a prominent visual deterrent for thieves. Even the best steering wheel locks won’t stop a determined thief, unfortunately, but any thief will require the right tools and generate a lot of noise to break them
Using immobilisers to prevent hot-wiring and driving off with unattended vehicles
Immobilisers prevent a vehicle’s engine from starting unless the correct ignition key or digital device is present. This can prevent a thief from hotwiring your van or driving off whilst you’re busy with a job. However, experienced thieves will often look for the immobilizer device and simply remove it and by-pass this security measure. Intelligent immobilisers can help combat this.
Instead of an immobiliser device that can be easily found by experienced thieves, intelligent immobilisers make use of the vehicle’s internal controls to be more discrete. Being able to customize the sequence of controls that need to be used also makes it difficult for thieves to guess the correct combination to start your vehicle.
Trackers can help retrieve your vehicle if it has been stolen
Trackers can be used by you or the police to assist in locating a vehicle if it has been stolen. Organised thieves may use scanning equipment to find a tracker or know where to look to disable them. You can install a back-up tracker that you can switch on remotely to counteract this.
What to do if your vehicle has been stolen?
The first step is informing the police and your insurance company straight away. For more information, please refer to GOV.UK
How can Northgate help?
For any vans you hire through Northgate, our expert fleet consultants can provide you with details of the additional security measures that are available. This will enable you to make an informed decision on how to protect your business from vehicle theft.
If the worst were to happen and your business was a victim of van theft, we are also able to assist you in getting back on the road as swiftly as possible.
Whether you need one or 1000+ business vans, our expert fleet consultants are on hand to help you meet your business needs.