Preventing Vehicle Theft

Preventing Vehicle Theft

With UK van theft having risen by up to 50 percent over the past four years, meaning there has never been a better time to take a review of your vehicle security.

The past year has seen a steady rise in van purchases with the increase in courier drivers and people setting up their own businesses. It may come as a surprise then that 4 in 10 new vans on sale do not have an alarm fitted as standard, according to a recent investigation by ‘What Car? Vans’.

The lack of theft detection technology could in-part explain why 43,000 vans have been stolen since 2016 and a further 117,000 broken into, costing drivers and businesses a whopping £61.9 million in lost tools and other items. That’s on average 30 vans a day, with London being the most affected.

Keyless Van Theft

Whilst having fitted alarm technology undoubtedly helps to deter thieves, another startling statistic is the number of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) being stolen without the owner’s keys. According to Tracker, a vehicle recovery company, keyless technology or ‘smart keys’ have led to a spike in LCV thefts.

Data from Tracker has revealed that 92 percent of LCVs it recovered last year were taken without the owner’s key, a dramatic increase from 44 percent in 2016. It added that the Ford Transit was the most popular van to be stolen in 2019.

The van’s keyless ignition system enables a driver to leave their key fob in their pocket and sensors in the vehicle pick up signals when the person is near, unlocking the van when the door handle is pulled.

Criminals can bypass such systems using easily available relay-attack tools that can activate a van key fob remotely, tricking the vehicle into unlocking the doors and starting the engine. While the key fob must still be close by, this method allows thieves to easily steal vehicles from outside their owner’s homes.

Theft Prevention

Whether you are a sole trader, small business or own a large fleet, the financial impact of theft can be steep including the cost of lost business, dissatisfied customers, expensive tool replacement and the likelihood of increased van or fleet van insurance premiums.

Here is some advice on how to increase van security, keeping your vehicle safe and secure.

1. Alarm system

Of the new vans analysed by ‘What Car? Vans’, just 58 percent of models came with a factory fitted alarm as standard and 36.5 percent offered a factory fitted alarm as an optional extra.  If you have an older vehicle without an alarm, think about having one fitted. Many thieves will run once an alarm starts blaring, plus it should trigger an alert to your mobile so you will be notified immediately. Choose an alarm that meets UK security body ‘Thatcham’s’ standards.

2. Locks

Luckily, many vans now include remote central locking. According to ‘What Car? Vans’, more than 90 percent of new vans now feature this technology as standard. More than 80 percent of vans also have deadlocks, meaning there is no spring for thieves to ‘pick’ open. Slam locks are also popular, automatically locking the door when you close it.

Steering locks are a reliable and relatively inexpensive way to deter thieves, while catalytic converter locks are seeing a rise in popularity due to the rapid increase in thefts. Vans tend to be more popular targets for catalytic converter thefts as they are higher off the ground and provide easier access to the sought after part.

3. Keyless Entry System

If you do use a keyless entry system, invest in a blocking pouch, or keep your fob in a tin box to prevent thieves amplifying the signal. Check your van’s manual to see how to switch off your fob when it’s not in use.

4. Other Security Measures

  • Install a vehicle GPS tracker to help trace a vehicle that has been stolen. This often secures a quick recovery in the event of a theft.
  • When parking your van overnight, ensure it is in a secure, well-lit area and empty your van of tools and valuable equipment.  If parking in a garage, add extra security such as a CCTV camera to give added protection.
  • Mark your tools with a UV pen or SmartWater forensic property marking fluid so that if the police do find them, they can be returned. 
  • Keep a full inventory of your equipment along with photographic evidence. Should anything be stolen, you can then quickly and easily identify what’s missing and inform the police and your motor trade insurance broker.

Check Your Van Insurance

Always check your motor trade insurance policy to see exactly what you are covered for and the circumstances in which you can make a claim. Most policies will stipulate certain criteria, such as keeping van doors locked when not in use, parking in a safe place and having added security installed.

For further help or advice on insuring your van and equipment, please give Tradex a call on 0333 313 1111.

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