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There's no worse feeling than being ready to start a day full of work, only to realise that your van has been broken into and you are a victim of tool theft. Not only are you now down potentially thousands of pounds, you'll also have to postpone work or even cancel it for a few days or weeks. Wasim Bux, Product Manager at insurance provider iGO4, explains how you can avoid becoming a victim.
Tool theft is one of the biggest financial concerns for tradespeople, and incidences are on the rise. The last three years have seen a 15% rise in tool theft from vans, costing businesses and sole traders over £46 million (Automotive World). Thieves are getting smarter, both in how they target individuals and the methods they use, but there are ways you can fight back. In this article, I'll share with you some tips to protect your work van from tool theft.
Locked and unloaded
It's obvious to say that you should keep your van locked when you aren’t in it, but you'd be surprised by how many opportunistic thieves are out there, waiting for you to carelessly pop into a shop without locking everything up. But even if you do, a quick smash and grab could see your phone and wallet go if you leave them out on display for all to see.
Generally, methodical thieves operate under the cover of darkness and will target your van once it’s parked up for the night. The easiest way around this is to remove your expensive tools from your van each night. Depending on the type of work you do, this may not be a practical solution, especially if you are parking overnight at a job, but it's still better than losing all your tools. You might reduce the possibility of a break in by getting a sign that says ‘tools not stored in van overnight’, although this is by no means a fool proof solution.
Beef up your security
Back in the 1990s, it wasn't uncommon to see all kinds of mechanical devices used by motorists to help secure their vehicle. Steering wheel and handbrake locks have fallen out of favour in modern times, but they still have a place as a low-tech solution to high tech keyless vehicle theft and provide an extra layer of protection for your van. You might also want to install readily visible security features such as specialist locks on points of entry — you can even get special alarmed locks specifically designed for vans.
Another good option is to invest in a lockable tool chest or roof tube to safely stores your tools and materials overnight. There are various van storage boxes on the market, including ones specifically designed to keep tools safe in the back of a pick-up style truck. If you make it hard to get into your van in the first place, an opportunistic thief may just get spooked and give up when confronted with another obstacle to overcome.
Install a tracker
Yes, a tracker won't protect your van from tool thieves, at least not directly. But, with 77% of vehicle theft investigations closed by police without even identifying a suspect (Telegraph), if your van gets stolen, the likelihood is that you'll never see your tools again. A tracker will give you a much better chance of getting both your van and your tools back.
There are different kinds of trackers for all kinds of budgets, from basic GPS systems that can be fitted to the body of your van, to much more expensive bits of kit that can actually help lower your insurance premiums. Either way, should the worst happen, the police will be able to find your stolen vehicle with ease and have a much better chance of catching the criminal and retrieving the van. You can even buy DNA marking kits that will not only help to deter thieves, but also aid in recovering your items and equipment.