Your van, and what’s inside of it, is your lifeblood.
Tools that you rely on for your entire business are housed inside, with costs often stretching into the thousands of pounds. Would you leave an envelope in your car stuffed full of cash? Exactly, so why take the risk with your tools. In the UK a van is broken into every 23 minutes, with 51% of tradesmen have reported having had tools stolen at some point.
While vehicle crime is at a low of almost 30 years, tool theft has seen a surge in recent years with methods and tactics of would-be thieves have become bolder and more brazen. In Yorkshire, alone £836,053 worth of tools were stolen between April 2018 and March 2019. It has never been more important to make sure that your van is secure. In general, van security has improved over the years, but sadly it still occurs far more than it should. The story of the Peugeot van that could be broken into in just five seconds by simply pushing fingers into the back of sliding door and pulling appeared in the Daily Mail earlier in the year highlighted how certain vans are likely to have weaknesses that thieves who know what they are doing can easily exploit. See image below of a Ford Custom
Discovering your van has been robbed first thing in the morning is a sucker punch that takes time to get over.
Not only for the obvious loss of tools, but the potential loss of business can prove to be devastating. Specialised tools can’t be replaced at the drop of hat, and sometimes take weeks to locate. In that time your business and business reputation can suffer. Police reports and insurance claims take time and this is time that comes directly out of your pocket.
Now, of course, nothing can be 100% preventable. Bar lugging your tools into your house each evening, leaving them in a van in a public area will always carry a degree of risk. But there are certain measures that can be taken to lower the risk as much as possible.
Don't do anything stupid
Just because you’ve had an awful day and can’t wait to plonk yourself down on the sofa and stick the tv on, doesn’t explain how so many thefts occur because a door has simply not been locked, or a window not completely closed. A quick 30 seconds check is all you need. And while we’re talking about the obvious, don’t leave valuables on show. A hi-tech tool sitting on the passenger seat is just begging to be stolen.
How you protect your van will often depend on the environment that you keep it.
A garage is preferable, but not available for all. A safe dependable street would be great, but we live in the real world, and that’s not always possible. That being said use a degree of common sense. Parking a van loaded with expensive tools on a dark street known for high crime rates is asking for trouble. If possible park on a well-lit street, and if CCTV is in operation, even better.
Think about what’s inside. It’s unfeasible to expect you can empty the van each night, but if 80% of the cost of what’s in the back of your van is down to two small tools, consider taking them inside. If you do need to leave things inside an internal security storage boxes could be just what you need. Even if thieves manage to bypass the alarm and rip open the doors, a steel box securely attached to the floor of the van can prove to be more than a match.
Test out your own van’s current security, and if it’s brand new see what security features come as standard.
Don’t assume that just because it’s a new van it will have the latest, and best features already installed. Most manufacturers will provide an acceptable level of security but by no means comprehensive. Approach your van in exactly the same way a thief would. I’m not saying smash the window in, but test its weak points. YouTube can provide invaluable advice for van owners about a vehicle’s weaknesses. Bear in mind that this advice can just as easily be found by thieves so it pays to be aware of it.
The most important point to start with is to invest in the most reliable van alarm you can afford, and don’t cut corners.
Why invest thousands of pounds in tools when you aren’t willing to spend a fraction of that on a decent alarm? Vanmate Van alarm is a very easy place to start.
It's a PIR motion-sensing alarm, screwed into the back your van, it will sound at 125DB if it detects motion. It comes with a durable remote & the batteries last up to 6 months.
Glazed windows are a simple way of deterring thieves, while deadlocks and slam locks are also great options to consider. More and more van users are choosing to invest in a vehicle tracking device, which dramatically improves the chances of a van being recovered once stolen, but also comes with the potential benefit of lowering of insurance premiums. The most advanced of these systems are operated through multiple systems, with the security company able to contact the police should the van be stolen. GPS units can now be placed within the tools themselves, providing that extra security should the van be dumped and the tools moved.
In short, there are numerous ways to make sure your van is secure as we head into 2020.
With a little common sense, and the right care and investment, you can make your van as secure as possible. Just over half of tradesmen have experienced this already, so don’t become of them. It’s impossible to prepare for every eventuality, but what you can do is to give yourself the peace of mind that your van is as least secure as possible.
This new year, along with that shiny new gym membership and the lofty ambition of finally building that shed, do something that you really can’t put off for another year. Get your van’s security sorted. Take your mind off tool theft, and get on with 2020.