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Precautions to help protect your van from theft

20th February 2018 Print

In recent news, we have been warned that a van is broken into every 23 minutes in the UK – with van tool theft up by 30% as of April 2017. Tradesmen and business owners now worry that the UK is now facing a van tool theft epidemic – and it’s a risk that many don’t want to take. Becoming a victim of a van break in can cost you a lot of money to replace your stolen or damaged tools and even your van – not forgetting the money you will lose if the incident leaves you unable to work for a period of time. 

Van Contract Hire specialists, Northgate Vehicle Hire, discuss what you can do to help protect your van from the tool theft epidemic. 

What security is available? 

When you are purchasing your van(s), there are several precautions you can take when ordering the vehicles. The majority of modern models are already fitted with a selection of good security features, however there are additional factory fitted security features that you can have fitted during manufacture. 

Security alarm 

By using car sensors, a security alarm on your vehicle reduces the risk and discourages thieves from stealing your vehicle or its contents. It only requires one sensor to pick up on a potential car thief and a signal is sent to the alarm to activate it. Vehicle alarms not only deter thieves but alert those around if someone is trying steal anything. 


You can have a security immobiliser fitted to your vehicle to boost your security system. An immobiliser protects your van from theft by electronically preventing the vehicle engine from running unless the correct key is present. New models are now generally fitted with an immobiliser as standard. This prevents the risk of hotwiring and any other process used to try and turn the engine on without the key. Having a factory fitted immobiliser is another way to save money on your insurance policy.

GPS tracker 

Some fleet managers have their vans fitted with GPS trackers as standard to monitor the whereabouts of their employees and monitor the vehicle usage. However, they can be fitted as a security and safety measure. Electronic GPS trackers can significantly improve your chances of recovering your van if you are the victim of van theft. Advanced tracking systems use multiple systems to locate a missing vehicle so that police forces can be informed when vehicles are stolen. Having a GPS tracker system fitted can also significantly lower insurance premiums. 

Tinted windows

Normal glass glazed windows are excellent visual aids when driving, however they make it easy for potential thieves to see what is inside your vehicle. Tinted windows make it more difficult to see inside – alternatively you can also choose to remove the windows on the back of your van and replace with solid doors so that no one can see inside your van. In this instance, van drivers must rely on wing mirrors to see around and behind them when driving. 

What can you do? 

There are several precautions you can take yourself to reduce the risks of being broken into. 

- Make sure you park in a well-lit, busy area – areas covered by CCTV is also a good idea. 

- Don’t leave any tools in sight. 

- Don’t leave any valuables in the van unattended. 

- Don’t leave your tools in your van overnight – it is wise to also indicate this on your van to deter potential thieves. 

- Always lock your van when it is unattended. 

Tool insurance 

Setting up a policy to cover the full value of all your tools is important – it means that your equipment is always covered should you ever be the victim of tool theft. Keep a record of all your tools that you keep in your van so that in the incident of theft, you aren’t under insured and you can claim for all of the tools that were stolen or damaged. For many tradesmen, tool insurance is an essential part of their insurance policy, and has been the saviour they have needed when they have found themselves as the victim. 

Between 2010 and 2016, the UK witnessed an alarming 40% growth in the average value of tool theft claims, and a 30.5% growth in the total number of claims. In 2016 alone, the total value of theft claims processed by Simply Business was the sum of £2.8 million – a significant increase from the total value of £1.9 million in 2015. There was also a significant increase in the average value of the claim between 2015 and 2016 – in 2016 the average claim value reached £1,626, a 40% increase on the previous year.  

Worryingly, these figures do not account for the time it takes to replace tools, and the period of time you could be out of work for whilst you need to see police, insurers and are left with no tools. Taking out tool insurance should be high on your priority list to protect your van and its contents.