How you can prevent your van from being stolen.
Van theft has risen by nearly 50% over a five-year period. On average 22 vans have been stolen across the UK each day since 2015. Van owners in London are those worst affected, with figures from the Metropolitan Police showing 4,777 thefts took place in the British capital between 2018 and 2019 - which accounts for just over half of the total van thefts across the country. While Leicestershire reported the highest ratio outside of London. But while there are certain areas with higher rates than others, the general trend for most of the country is an increase in van theft.
The days of hotwiring cars and vans are almost gone now. The technology used in the vehicles we use today are light years ahead of what was available just twenty years ago. But thieves are rising to the challenge, and even as security is improving, so are the methods to break them. It’s believed one of the major reasons for this has been the increase in popularity of keyless entry systems. In 2016, 44% of vans stolen were done so without the owner’s keys, and by 2017 that figure had increased to 82%.
Ironically for a system that was designed to make life easier, it may, in fact, be making it easier for thieves to steal your van. By using a relay device it is possible to boost the signal of a key fob and so tricking the van into thinking the fob is present. And that’s just the start. For the past decade, each car sold has been required to come with a diagnostic port, which is typically located in the front footwell.
Devices have been developed by computer hackers that can plug into these ports, run the vehicle’s software and even program a separate key fob. This is a process that can take as little as 14 seconds if you know what you’re doing, and the cost of such a device from foreign websites can be as low as £10. The list goes on. Though app hacking and code grabbing may sound like dangers of the future, experts are predicting that they will become more common sooner than you might think.
In short, the problem of van theft is getting worse, not better. It’s important that van owners take the proper precautions to ensure that you actually find your van in the morning exactly where you left it. The cost in terms of loss of business, not to mention tools that might not be covered by insurance can be astronomical. Insurance premiums are likely to rise by huge amounts after a theft, with insurance companies understandably placing you in a higher risk category.
It sounds like a hopeless situation, but with the right precautions, you can at least give yourself a good chance of being on the better side of those worrying statistics we mentioned earlier.
Here are a few things to make sure you are doing:
- Locking your doors - Maybe you’re just nipping in Mcdonalds for five minutes, surely the van will be safe? Having your van stolen because you didn’t lock the doors is inexcusable. Always lock your door, even if you’re just grabbing a quick Big Mac.
- Window bulkheads - These are a proven deterrent for thieves. Having a well-constructed bulkhead between the storage space and driving area is seriously something to consider.
- Security film - These can strengthen a window to almost smash proof levels. They are optically clear, high tensile polyester film with an ultra-strong adhesive that bonds it to the windows.
- Park carefully - Of course nowhere is 100% crime-free, but you can generally get an idea of where would be a good place to leave your van and where wouldn’t. If you do need to leave it in an area you’re not completely confident with, try at least to block the doors.
- Think of the fob - Leaving a fob lying next to the window just a few meters from the van is just asking for trouble. It’s important to block the signal from the fob to the van. Simply placing it in an aluminium box can block the signal between the two.
- Go old school - Get yourself some old fashioned locks. Whether it’s a steering wheel lock we do one here or even a lock that blocks your diagnostic port, the effect of having a significant barrier for thieves once they are in your van is likely to make them think twice.
One absolutely vital piece of kit is a steering wheel lock.
Having even a run of the mill lock can provide a serious obstacle for thieves. But spending a bit more money on something with real quality assurance makes absolute sense. We recommend the Vanmate Steering Wheel Lock which comes with a combination lock, giving a thief a 1 in 100,000 chance of correctly guessing the combination. Made with anti-theft, material zinc alloy and reinforced steel, this lock is about as easy to use & impregnable as you’re going to get.
Any thief that peers through the window and sees this attached to the steering wheel is likely to keep on moving. And if they do decide to give it a crack, they could be in there for a number of years trying all of the various combinations. It is built with a life span of up to 25 years and takes seconds to fit on to your steering wheel giving you peace of mind.
The methods of breaking into vans are evolving and it may seem like we can’t keep up. Sadly our technologically advanced vans may be causing us more problems than they should, however, should somebody manage to break into the van, they will need to use that steering to make a getaway. With a Vanmate Lock slapped across that steering wheel you are providing one hell of a reason for thieves to turn around and leave.
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