This week Sky News reported that there has been a 30% increase in vehicle theft in the last 3 years as gangs learn how to bypass modern vehicle security systems.
A Freedom of Information request showed that a total of 65,783 vehicles were reported stolen to 40 police forces in England and Wales in 2013, but by 2016 it had risen to 85,688. Some of the vehicles affected were vans and small lorries.
Vans are an easy target. Not only is there the actual value of the van, but also the value of anything in the van.
For anybody with a commercial vehicle van security should be a top priority.
Here are some Freightlink top tips on how to improve your van’s security and stay one step ahead of the criminals.
If you’re a thief, being disturbed is the last thing you want to happen. We recommend that your van is parked in a well-lit area. It’s also worth looking around for areas covered by CCTV. Even if your vehicle is not fully in view, you can check the coming and goings of people in the area.
You might park your van at work or at home. You can improve security and safety by adding security lights, lockable gates or even bollards.
You can also set some CCTV systems to stream video directly to your computer or even an app on your phone. Notifications can be triggered when the system detects movement.
If you are in the market for a new van, most now come fitted with an alarm and immobiliser as standard. This is considered the basic minimum and these systems should be Thatcham Category 2 approved. Whilst that is only the entry level of protection, you should also consider more advanced electronic alarm systems or even a GPS vehicle tracking device.
GPS trackers can massively improve the chances of recovering your vehicle if it's stolen. Some insurance firms could potentially give you a lower insurance premium when fitted to your van. The more advanced tracking systems use multiple systems to locate a missing vehicle. These systems all talk to each other to inform the police about any vehicles that are stolen.
It might sound obvious but one of the simplest ways to avoid anything being nicked from your van is to not leave anything there overnight in the first place. If you can take all of your goods out of your van when you’re leaving it, all the better. Also, don’t forget to remove your other devices such as sat-navs, smart phones, iPads or laptops. You might be tempted to leave some of these devices under a seat or in the glove compartment out of sight, but you would be making it easy for any would-be crooks.
If you’re a fleet manager, the security of your fleet is only as good as the weakest link. You need to ensure everyone is singing off the same hymn sheet when it comes to van security. It’s pointless spending money and time in getting the latest van security technology in place if other people using a van do not follow the correct procedures. If other drivers are using your van, make sure they take the same precautions that you would.
Locks are all well and good, but only if you actually use them. Again we are stating the obvious here, but remember to lock your van when you’re leaving it. Even if you are just nipping into a butty shop for your dinner, or a garage to pay for fuel. Opportunist thieves are everywhere and they don’t need to be asked twice.
Don’t be distracted by sales talk, glossy brochures and fancy vehicle options. Security features need to be a priority.
Most new vans now offer a good range of security features, but pay attention and check the van you're looking at has the right kit as standard. If you need to add extras, consider specifying an alarm, immobiliser and deadlocks for all the doors.
Have a serious think about whether you want glazed rear doors. They are ideal for visibility, but they can be a risk to security as they allow anyone to see inside the vehicle. Opting for a mesh grille or a solid bulkhead between the cab and load area is another way of protecting your van's cargo as everything remains out of sight.
Some vans come with a single rear door as standard. Ask yourself, do you really need to load and unload from both sides of your van before ticking the option of the second side door.
It’s important to protect the contents of your van, but there are parts of your actual van that are also valuable to thieves. Precious metals within catalytic converters are attractive to thieves. This kind of theft is on the rise.
Vans and high-riding pick-up trucks are particularly vulnerable to attack because their added ground clearance means the catalytic converter is easier to get to. Thankfully, there are firms that offer anti-theft devices for converters. It’s well worth having one installed on your van.
All in all what you’re doing is looking to protect your investment in the best possible way and as securely as possible. Most security measures are common sense, but if anything happens to your van then you will need to go through the rigmarole of an insurance claim to get your van back on the road as quickly as possible.