How can I make my van more secure?
While manufacturer-fitted security systems will certainly help to prevent theft, it's also crucial that you take sensible measures of your own to make your van less desirable to thieves. These include:
- Keep your key fob safe
- Think about where you park
- Don't leave any valuables or belongings inside your van
- Keep the vehicle locked at all times
- Invest in the latest security technology
- Keep a record of what's in your van
- Make sure fellow employees follow the rules
Let’s take a closer look at each of these tips.
Keep your key fob safe
Just like you do with your house keys, it's essential to keep your van key fobs safe and out of sight. Thieves nowadays use jammers to capture the fob and the van’s signal, leaving the vehicle unlocked and vulnerable to theft. Most modern vans now have an audible or visual signal to notify the driver, which indicates the van is locked, while others will use 'pins' inside the windows, which will lower when the doors have been locked. However, it is still vital you take steps to prevent your key from being stolen.
The most commonplace for hiding a key is near the front door or under a doormat. Many people choose to place them there for convenience; however, most thieves know this, and it is the first place they look. When at home or in the workplace, be sure to keep your vehicle keys out of sight and away from easy finger-swiping reach. Once you find a place to keep your keys safe, it might be a good idea to invest in some signal-blocking pouches.
Putting your keys in a signal-blocking pouch will help stop any thieves from amplifying the signal when you're not using your keys. However, they sometimes leave the signal jammers at the side of a car park or even in bushes, so it's always best to be on your guard and double-check your van is locked.
Think about where you park
Choosing the right place to park your van can reduce your vehicle's chances of getting broken into. You mustn't just park in the first space you see. Try and park somewhere well-lit and busy, where people passing can see the van regularly, even if you are leaving it for just a few minutes.
If you need to use a car park, try to find security patrolled, covered by CCTV, or approved for Park Mark’s safer parking. Likewise, if you park your van at home or work, try and keep it in a well-lit position. If that's not possible, then consider security gates, lockable bollards or motion-sensor lights. Thieves are less likely to target your vehicle if they believe they might be disturbed.
Don't leave any valuables or belongings inside your van
It sounds obvious, but it is often ignored or forgotten, so be sure to take your belongings with you when you park to help avoid opportunistic thieves or van vandalism. This includes all tools, sat navs, tablets and mobile phones. Even having a bag or coat on display or leaving loose change on the dashboard is enough to tempt somebody to break into your van and leave you with a hefty repair bill for a broken window. For items that can’t be removed, make sure it is well out of sight of prying eyes. If you can see through the rear door windows (if you have them), make sure that anything in the back is also out of sight. Removing temptation from sight is good prevention.
It is almost a given now that a working van will contain some sort of technology usually associated with the job, from sat navs and tablets to Bluetooth and infotainment systems. If possible, try and remove all equipment and technology from the van without leaving anything valuable in the cabin or boot overnight. Make it clear to those passing the vehicle that the vehicle is empty by installing a “Tools are not left in this van” sticker.
Keep the vehicle locked at all times
All the world’s security systems can't prevent a van's theft if you leave it unlocked - even for a minute. As obvious as it sounds, make sure that you secure and lock the van even if you are just popping in to pay for petrol or just a quick delivery. That includes all windows and all doors, including rear doors and any sliding ones.
Invest in the latest security technology
Most modern vans already come with an alarm and immobiliser as standard, but it may be worth upgrading to a more advanced system like a tracking device to improve your van's security. Electronic GPS trackers are devices used to monitor something or someone's location remotely. Getting one fitted for your van allows the device to send data to GPS satellites, directing the info onward to the insurance provider or device owner's connected app or phone number. Some of the most advanced tracking systems use various methods to find a missing van and alert the police, which allows them to locate the vehicle’s exact location.
While fitting a tracking device won't necessarily prevent a vehicle from being stolen, it will help increase the vehicle’s chances of being recovered and returned by the police. A tracker also has the potential to lower your insurance premiums when you get one fitted. Insurance companies love GPS tracking devices because it helps with remote asset recovery. It could take weeks for police to hunt down a stolen vehicle, whereas having a tracking device can ping your vehicle's exact location. This is why insurance premiums are lower if you have an anti-theft device fitted, as it reduces the likelihood of insurance providers having to pay out a large claim. A tracking device can also keep your running costs down by allowing you to monitor your mileage so you can change your driving style to cut down on fuel consumption.
Keep a record of what's in your van
Try and keep a record of any inventory, either on a notebook or spreadsheet, by listing the make, model and serial number of all your business's portable equipment. AXA suggests making a habit of holding onto the receipt for everything you buy. These help you determine the value of an item for insurance purposes if the unthinkable does happen and your van gets broken into. Direct Line reported that the average value of stolen tools is £385, with an estimated 217,000 tools stolen between 2017 and 2019. As trades businesses will know, you tend to build your collections of tools over many years and gather an impressive display, so ensuring they are kept as safe and secure as possible is vital.
You can register your equipment and tools with a system such as Immobilise. This is a database of property ownership that can be accessed by the police to track stolen goods. It may also be worth marking valuable equipment using a watermark-style system that registers valuables on a central database. This means that if your tools are recovered, it's more likely to be returned to you as it's harder to sell on an item marked.
Make sure fellow employees follow the rules
If you are not the only person that uses the van, make sure that anyone else (such as partners and employees) who use it keep to your standards. It is no use locking the doors every time you leave it if someone else ignores this advice.