How to stop your van being stolen

With expensive equipment locked inside, vans are often the target of thieves in the UK - we discuss ways to prevent your van being stolen


Think of vehicle theft and you will probably have in mind images of high-end, performance cars being targeted. But they’re no means the only objectives for thieves and crime gangs – vans are also high up the list of ‘hits’, not just for their own value, but for the expensive tools and equipment that can be found inside them.

Commercial vehicle theft stands at nearly 50,000 a year in the UK and that crime figure has risen steadily over the last decade with little sign of a let-up. A van is broken into every 23 minutes in Britain and, as well as the cost of cargo and tools stolen there is the added expense of having a van off the road for repairs, some of which can be very costly.

And whether you’re a fleet manager in charge of 100 vans or a one-man operator relying on your van to run your business, a break-in or total theft is a heart-breaking, disruptive and expensive incident.

So it has never been more important to ensure you are doing all you can to keep your property – the van and all its contents – as safe and secure as you possibly can. It only take a few minutes for your vehicle to be compromised, so security is something that must be taken seriously and practised every hour of every day.

Main types of attack

There are several ways in which a crook will try to gain entry into your van. Experts at Kent-based security firm Locks4Vans exhibited at the recent CV Show in Birmingham with a van fitted with most of their deterrents, and list the current most prevalent forms of attack.

“Is it the most secure van in Britain?” says commercial director Terry Rayner. “Well, we’d like to think so, however we have to constantly update our equipment as crooks continually overcome each security device.

“Many van owners come to us for remedial work after their vehicle has been broken into. It’s then that they realise they should have had some extra security fitted to their vans before they were targeted.”


Peel and Steal: The ‘peel and steal’ method is at an all-time high. Criminals use their knees to apply pressure to the van’s side load area or rear barn doors before pulling open from the top using their bodyweight. This not only reveals the van’s contents but causes considerable damage.


Anti-peel kit: Designed to reduce door peeling, this solution is fitted to the front edge of the vehicle’s side load door.

Statement Lock: The lock mounts externally to the doors of the vehicle and braces them together for a high security result.


Exposing the locking system: From cutting the van’s expensive central wiring loom

to puncturing the outer bodywork of the van, most of these attack methods are extremely quick and very inconspicuous at the time.


Shielding: Providing internal and external protection they reduce the risk of an attack. External plates also act as a deterrent, helping to reduce the cost of costly door repairs. Hook Lock: A deadlocking hook bolt engages into its opposing body section and is operated by its high-security external key.


Opportunist van crime: Even leaving the load area unlocked for a couple of seconds can give an opportunist thief enough time to make off with precious cargo.  If you are regularly in and out of your van, there is a chance you might forget to lock the door.


Slam lock: It safeguards against the driver forgetting to lock the doors, so once the door is shut it locks automatically and can only be opened using the correct lock key. This dramatically reduces the opportunity for theft.

Slam handle: Similar effect to a slam lock, it is designed for couriers, multi-drop delivery drivers and for any job where a driver could be regularly in and out of a load area throughout the day.

Basic security steps

As well as buying specialist security equipment for your van, there are some simple steps to take which will help reduce the chance of theft or break-in:

1. Always lock the doors, even for a few minutes

2. A van’s signwriting shows what you might be carrying. Consider an unmarked vehicle

3. Just as with cars, don’t leave phone, satnav or equipment on show in the cab

4. Remove expensive equipment and tools at night

5. Keep your keys with you so that thieves can’t clone them

6. Use stickers to tell crooks that ‘No valuable are left overnight’ or ‘GPS tracking fitted’

7. An immobiliser will reduce the risk of the van actually being driven away

8. If it does get stolen, a tracking device could help the police to find it

Tom Johnston
Tom Johnstonhttp://johnstonmedia.com/
Tom Johnston was the first-ever reporter on national motoring magazine Auto Express. He went on to become that magazine’s News Editor and Assistant Editor, and has also been Motoring Correspondent for the Daily Star and contributor to the Daily and Sunday Express. Today, as a freelance writer, content creator and copy editor, Tom works with exciting and interesting websites and magazines on varied projects.

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