How Can I Improve My Van Security?
July 12, 2019 at 2:31 PM
Vans are more likely to be targeted by vehicle thieves compared to cars because they will potentially be carrying expensive tools and equipment. As a result, it's important to invest in additional van security products to keep the vehicle and its contents safe.
Research conducted by Van Monster revealed that a van is broken into every 23 minutes in the UK with the average tool theft claim standing at around £1,626.
As a sole trader or SME, you will normally rely on your van for your business - having it stolen or broken into will stop you completing existing jobs and prevent you from being able to take any new work until your van and/or tools are replaced. This can present a very serious cashflow problem, especially if your insurance payout takes a long time to process or, worse still, your insurance doesn't cover van and tool theft.
Fortunately, there are products you can buy to help prevent van theft and simple things you can do to improve the security of your van.
Additional Van Security Products
When it comes to making modifications to improve van security, we would suggest only installing Thatcham-approved products. Security expert Thatcham have their own testing method and categorisation system that is well respected within the British insurance industry.
Certain security modifications might actually reduce your insurance premium; however, some could have the opposite effect or void your policy entirely. Before making any security improvements, it's always best to discuss them with your insurance provider first.
The most common security modification that van owners make is additional external locks on the rear and side doors to protect their cargo from brute force attacks. Typically, van owners will either use slamlocks or deadlocks.
Slamlocks lock instantly once the door is shut which protects your van against opportunistic thieves who might try to steal somethimg when you leave it temporarily unattended.
Deadlocks, on the other hand, need to be physically locked with a key. The main advantage of a deadlock is that they're difficult to pick because they don't use a spring in the locking mechanism.
Most modern vans will come with a factory-fitted alarm and engine immobiliser system. Before you commit to buying a van, you should always check the alarm system it comes with.
As a minimum, your van should have a Thatcham category 2 approved alarm which automatically includes an immobiliser as part of the alarm system. If your van only has a basic alarm, it can always be upgraded to a more advanced and secure system.
Between 2009 and 2018, 522,214 vehicles were reported as stolen in the UK with only 236,636 being recovered - a staggering 45.32%, meaning that over half of all stolen vehicles were not returned to their owner.
Installing a GPS tracking system to your van might not prevent it from being stolen, but it will increase the chances of it being recovered.
Although it sounds expensive and high-tech, some of the leading tracker providers offer a subscription-model service to reduce upfront costs and make it more affordable.
Thanks to the upgrades in standard van security, the traditional protection methods such as steering wheel locks have become a thing of the past.
However, these low-tech solutions represent an extra obstacle for thieves to overcome and provide a visible deterrant. Although they're uncommon, you can still find Thatcham-approved versions available.
LOCKABLE SAFE / STORAGE BOX
The best way to prevent tools from being stolen is by not keeping them in the van when you're not there. Unfortunately, this is an ideallistc and highly impractical option, especially when you're on a job.
Alternatively, you could invest in a lockable safe or storage box to protect your tools overnight and while you're working. Despite taking up some of your precious load area, it will provide you with piece of mind that your expensive equipment is secure.
Securing Your Van By Changing Your Behaviour
These measures could also be referred to as 'the basics'. They are all things that you should be doing naturally to increase your van security, but might be forgotten as you go about your day-to-day business.
MAKE SURE YOUR VAN IS LOCKED
It sounds stupid to even mention it, but if you're carrying something heavy or bulky out from the back of the van, do you always put it down to lock the door? Most thefts are opportunistic, so don't give anyone the chance to steal something from your van by ensuring that the van is always locked when you leave it.
Even if you press the button on your key fob to lock the door, you should double check that it's actually locked by pulling the handle. Increasingly tech-savvy thieves have been using 'key jammers' to interrupt signals from key fobs so that van owners think their vehicle is secure when actually it's wide open. The only way to protect yourself against this is to perform a manual check.
REMOVE VALUABLES FROM SIGHT
One of the main advantages of having a panel van is that thieves can't see into the cargo area, so they don't know what tools or equipment you're carrying on a daily basis.
Having said that, it's important not to leave any valuables, such as mobile phones or other electronic devices, on display in the cab area.
THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU PARK
Parking your van at home is where you have the most control. Ideally, you want to park it in a locked garage where thieves can't even see the van, let alone break into it.
If that isn't an option, a driveway is the next best thing where you can install motion-detecting lights and CCTV cameras to watch over your van.
If you have to park on the street, try to find a busy, well-lit area - preferably one that's covered by CCTV cameras. You could even try parking with the van doors up against a wall to make access more difficult.
DON'T LEAVE YOUR KEYS BY THE FRONT DOOR
Although it's convenient, leaving your keys by the front door is asking for trouble from a meticulous and patient thief. Using a piece of wire, they can easily go through the letterbox to steal the keys and drive away with your van.
Alternatively, if your van has a keyless entry system, more tech-savvy thieves can trick the van into unlocking its doors. Two thieves can work together using a relay amplifier to pick up the signal from the key and transfer it to a relay transmitter which acts as the key. This process can take as little as 60 seconds and is virtually silent.
Van Insurance & Van Security
Before committing to a van insurance policy, you should ask the insurer the following questions to know that you have adequate cover if your van, or anything in your van, gets stolen:
- What's included in the policy and what's expected from you?
- Are 'goods in transit' included in the policy?
- Is windscreen and window repair covered?
- If personal belongings are damaged or stolen, will they be covered?
- Will a replacement van be provided if yours is stolen or damaged?
- Will the van's contents (other than personal belongings) be insured in the event of damage or theft?
KEEP A RECORD OF EVERYTHING IN THE VAN
If you have to make a claim on your insurance as a result of theft, keeping a detailed inventory of the contents of your van will be an immense help. Some people find it easiest to record serial numbers for equipment and tools.
For particularly expensive items, you should keep receipts to simplify the claims process - just make sure they aren't stored in the van.
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