• Ben Carter Electrical

How secure is your vehicle and the tools inside it.

Unfortunately, vehicle crime in the UK is increasing. This includes tool theft from vans.

Ben Carter Electrical Contracting Services supports other local tradesmen and professions. Here we share some helpful information to protect your vehicle going forward.

But first, let’s look at the statistics:

Figures recently published by the BBC state that van crime rose from 14,063 incidents in 2014/15 to 22,749 in 2016/17.

These are alarming figures for anyone who works in a trade. We know how important your vans are to your profession and your work tools are your livelihood.

For the majority of victims of van crime, this can leave any professional unable to work for days and lose hundreds, if not thousands of pounds in earnings. On top of this, having to pay for repairs to their van, if they still have it, and for replacement tools.

Statistics to make you think: The research out there can throw up alarming statistics: in some cases it can take as little as 10 seconds for a thief to break into a vehicle; recently Radio 5 Live quoted police figures claiming that in the UK, a van is broken into every 23 minutes; and that over half of all tradespeople have been a victim of van crime at least once and the average value of van theft is over £1,500.

How do thieves get in? These people are professionals, skeleton keys and the ‘peel and steal’ method are the most popular methods of uauthorised entry, these methods have been perfected over the years

Worryingly, Skeleton keys, which should be restricted to registered locksmiths, are frighteningly by available online for just £20, and these keys give thieves easy access to many vehicles.

Peel and steal is simply more a matter of brute force. The thief leans against the vehicle’s door and uses their bodyweight to ‘peel’ the door away from its frame, as if opening a tin. This is a more commonly used method.

What is also on the rise, is high-tech crime, which includes keyless entry reaching the light commercial vehicle (LCV) market, theft relating to keyless entry is, not unsurprisingly, on the increase.

What security features should you consider when purchasing a van? Most modern vehicles now a days offer excellent security features however it can be easy to skip security with so many other features to select and you could also be on a budget. This potentially, could be a big mistake.

Putting off thieves in the first place is crucial. You should give priority to considering security features when making a new purchase, or kitting out and protecting an existing vehicle.

You should look at the following:

  • Is there an alarm and immobilizer fitted?

  • Do I need to purchase extras such as lockable toolboxes, deadlocks and slam locks?

  • Is there tinted windows?

  • Do I need to rethink those glazed rear windows?

  • Is a second rear door necessary?

  • Keeping the cab and load area separated can be of benefit so ensure a decent bulkhead is fitted

  • If you install an electronic GPS tracker – it’s easier to recover if the van if stolen and it can lower insurance premium

  • There has been an increase in catalytic converter theft - anti-theft devices are available

  • If keyless entry is applicable, store keys in a metal container or “faraday” pouch.

  • Look at anything you can do to minimise van crime.

More often than not, reducing risk is often a matter of common sense. However, common sense measures can sometimes be time consuming and are not always possible, let’s not forget that if someone really wants to gain access to a vehicle, it is extremely hard to stop them.

Prevention is better than a cure, so make sure you take as many steps as possible to make a potential thief think twice before targeting a vehicle.

Suggested Prevention Steps:

  • When unattended, make sure all belongings are removed from the van, don’t leave anything visible that could attract attention. Mobile smart phones left on seats for example.

  • Keep all documents relating to the van ownership in your home or office, not in the vehicle

  • Remove the keys, when attended, even if it’s for a very short time

  • Park the van in well-lit areas, ideally located in front of CCTV

  • If possible, you should store your tools away from the van at night and ensure that a ‘No tools left in this van overnight’ sticker is clearly displayed

  • Make sure the van is locked and all windows firmly closed when not in use

  • Ensure all tools are insured, keep all receipts and proof of equipment used in your home or office.

Ultimately, it is down to you as the van owner to do all you can to protect the van and its contents.

You never know who’s lurking about.

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