Tips for Keeping Your Van Safe & Secure
When your van is also your office and your toolbox, it is vital (as much as keeping it running) that it is kept safe from thieves. Many of whom are well aware of just how valuable your equipment can be. More than protecting your tools and materials a secured van protects your livelihood, especially for those just about to strike out on their own. Below we'll go through the best methods to keep pesky buglers at bay.
Why Take Precautions?
More so than ever before van theft is on the rise, with an 81% increase between 2015 and 2019 alone. Naturally, this has only gotten worse in the last three years with Comparethemarket.com estimating that by 2030, over 20,000 vans could be stolen each year. Currently, that means that approximately 35 vans are reported missing every single day.
That's not to mention tool theft. One of the most common occurrences, which results in less than 1% of victims ever seeing their tools again. After this ladders and personal items top the list of stolen items – demonstrating that nothing you leave in your van is truly safe until the van itself is adequately secured.
Suffering from theft naturally costs far more than the price of replacements (which in itself can be far from trivial). A lack of tools means a lack of work and innumerable potential customers that may never call again. Add to this the time that needs to be spent on reporting and following up as well as the mental toll the whole ordeal can take and you end up with a crime that doesn't just cause stress but can also set you back months.
How Criminals Work
Unfortunate as it may be, van theft can be a full-time job for some, and the variety of techniques used go to show how bizarrely dedicated this brand of thief can be. Take key-fob hacking. This higher-tech technique involves intercepting and replicating the radio signal of your keys to open the doors without having to worry about any alarm. Worryingly, the devices needed to do this are readily available and can be bought for cheap online.
Another common, if not subtle, method is simply 'peeling' the doors back. Whilst it may seem unlikely, the fact is that many vans (particular those built in recent years) have been made using thinner metals. This greatly decreases weight and improves their fuel efficiency, though makes them far more vulnerable.
Keeping Your Van Safe
Preventing Key-Fob Hacking
A good place to start protecting your van is to address this, one of the most difficult to detect methods of thieving. Whilst the kit needed to intercept your keys radio signal can be acquired online, so can the solution (and for just as cheap). You see, these devices only work when your key is within a certain distance meaning thieves need only wait nearby and 'catch' the signal as it is transmitted. However, a signal-blocking pouch can put a stop to that. These pouches are lined with layers of metallic material, designed to block the signal at all times. You may also find that your key in particular can have its wireless signal turned off – much like your phone's data. If so, this information can be found in your van's manual.
Preventing Door Peeling
The answer to door peeling comes in a form that your more than likely would have guessed. Locks. More specifically specially designed hook locks which can be fitted to the top of the rear of your van to make peeling almost impossible. Similar side door keepers and even full anti-peel kits can also be procured to much the same effect.
Steering Wheel Locks
A classic form of defence, steering wheel locks function the same way as a bike lock – immobilising the wheel to prevent anyone from driving off with your van and its valuables. Though they have fallen somewhat out of fashion, these mechanical locks can be a very real obstacle for modern thieves who no longer cart around a bag full of tools. And, best of all, they can be bought with little expense.
Highly recommended for those who have purchased a second-hand van, getting your keys re-programmed should always be near the top of your list. Just as changing the locks on your front door help to guarantee that you are the only one with a working set of keys, this ensures that no previous owners can come by and help themselves to your property.
Park Securely & In Clearly Visible Areas
Very rarely, if ever, are specific vans targeted with most thefts being thefts of opportunity. The best way to avoid being a victim of these then, is to never present those opportunities in the first place. Taking care when parking is the simplest and yet most effective method of deterrence. As we mentioned before, vans thefts are common so if yours is parked safely and in a well-lit area, most thieves will simply look for easier pickings elsewhere.
Never Leave Your Tools Overnight
After a long day of work, it can be tempting to leave your tools in your van overnight – doubly so if you have to get back to a job early the next morning. However, this is the perfect time for a thief to strike. Save yourself the risk by taking the time to unload your tools and store them separately in a facility or at home.
Whilst it is never a good idea to go charging off after a van thief yourself, GPS trackers can be a big help to the police when trying to recover your property. As you might expect, it’s for this reason that they, like steering wheel locks, are big deterrents to your average criminal.
Painting & Signage
The first thing a thief would want to do after stealing a van is to make it as unidentifiable as possible. Counter this by plastering it with large displays and contact details – all of which will make it a far less tempting target. Of course, this type of work doesn't necessarily come cheap, but it can be worth the price, even if it’s just to help get your name out there.
Clearly Mark Your Van & Tools
If all of the above fails, and your van or its contents are stolen, you'll want to make sure that they can be easily traced back to you. Whether this is paint, permanent marker or ultraviolet pens a clear identity will make it that much easier for them to be returned quickly.
There are quite a few options when it comes to locks, though slam locks are some of the most popular. Once installed onto your side doors, they lock instantly and automatically when you exit, eliminating the risk of forgetfulness and ensuring your van is secured at ALL times. Another lock to keep in mind is a Catalytic converter lock. These are tailor-made to protect your converter – a common component stolen due to the precious metals they contain.
In addition to all these practical solutions above, you will still want to prepare for the worst. And that means insurance. There are a few different options to go for here, so it is important that you do your due diligence and find the policy that is best for you. 'Carriage of own goods, for example, is the staple insurance for plumbers, carpenters, electricians, and any other tradesperson who work with their own equipment. ‘Haulage’, on the other hand, is a policy that covers single loads – an essential for any moving company.
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