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The UK’s Tool & Van Theft Hotspots

Published on Friday 29 November 2019 in Van News

The UK’s Tool & Van Theft Hotspots

Here at Vanarama we understand how important our vans are to tradespeople up and down the country. They are the lifeblood for thousands of businesses and provide a means for traders to make a decent living.

Having a van or tools stolen can have a massive impact on trade, especially just before Christmas. To help customers, we quizzed 45 police forces across the country to reveal where van owners are most likely to be a victim of vehicle and tool theft.

The findings from the investigation make disappointing reading. Police data revealed tool theft jumped 8% from 2017 to 2018, while vehicle theft jumped 27% in the same period. Given the rise, we have created a map detailing the figures and urge van owners to prioritise the security of their vehicle, and the tools that provide their livelihood.

According to the research, forces received 3,513 cases of tool theft from vans in 2018, this equates to roughly 70 cases a week, or 10 cases every day. When it comes to worst offending areas, police forces in Cambridge (820), Staffordshire (528) and South Yorkshire (307) received the highest number of tool theft cases in 2018.

Police Force

Stolen Tools 2017

Stolen Tools 2018

Year-On-Year Increase

1. Cambridge

435

820

+ 88%

2. Staffordshire

597

528

- 11%

3. Gwent

445

373

- 16%

4. Avon and Somerset

394

359

- 8%

5. Cleveland

351

289

- 16%


As part of the investigation, we also asked forces to disclose the number of vans to have been reported stolen. The figures revealed that 2,850 vans were reported stolen in 2018, a 27% increase from the previous year, equating to 55 vans every week, or eight vans a day.

Interestingly, the cities that witness the highest levels of tool theft differs dramatically from the cities that witness the highest levels of van theft. The findings reveal that police forces in Nottinghamshire (371), Leicestershire (366) and Hampshire (269) reported the highest cases of van theft in 2018.

Police Force

Stolen Vans 2017

Stolen Vans 2018

Year-On-Year Increase

1. Nottinghamshire

262

371

+ 41%

2. Leicestershire

206

366

+ 77%

3. South Yorkshire

215

307

+ 42%

4. Hampshire

340

269

- 20%

5. Lancashire

171

202

+ 18%

 

Interestingly, during the investigation we discovered many police forces were ill-equipped to handle our FOI requests. Of 45 forces, only 15 were able to supply complete data on tool thefts from vans, with Leicestershire and Northamptonshire among those who wouldn't supply a split between thefts from vans and vehicles. Merseyside and Durham could not differentiate between thefts of vans and vehicles, while Essex Police and Durham were unable to supply any data to either request.

Note: The data included in the graphic is representative of the information shared by each police force that responded to the FOI request. Unfortunately, not every police force was able to cooperate with the request. In this instance, we've had to mark their contribution down as N/A.

Need A Hand To Protect Your Van?

No one wants to be a victim of theft, so here's how you can reduce the risk and protect your vehicle…

  • Where you go, your tools go – it's simple, if you've got expensive tools in your van, don't leave them unattended overnight, take them with you.

  • Lock it or lose it – it doesn't matter if you're just 'popping' into the shops, lock your van!

  • Don't make your van vulnerable – parking can be a pain, but having your tools stolen is a nightmare, so make sure you give where you park a second thought. DON'T park in an unlit area that doesn't have any CCTV cameras in sight.

  • Warning signs – most vans will have an alarm and immobiliser as standard features, so to protect your van, check that they are enabled. If your van isn't fitted with an alarm or immobiliser, we suggest equipping your van with both.

  • Value your valuables – have you left your sat nav on show? Not worried about your wallet being on the passenger seat? THINK AGAIN. Leaving expensive valuables on display will cost you, it gives thieves a reason to break into your van.

  • Steer clear of theft – get yourself a steering wheel lock, it will deter thieves.

  • Secure safe – if you do leave any items in your van, lock them away in a van safe.

  • Cover the cost of theft – check if your insurance covers you for theft, if it doesn't, it's worth investing in a vehicle theft cover. If your tools do get stolen or damaged, Vanarama will cover the costs of replacements. Simply choose to add our Tools In Transit Insurance to your van lease.

  • Darken your windows – if your van has rear windows, it's easy for thieves to see the contents of your van. Darkening your rear windows will reduce the risk of your van being broken into – anything that is left in your van won't be on view to thieves. 

  • The trick is to have a tracker – you'll have to fork out for this, but it will be worth it if your van gets stolen. Fitting a GPS tracker will allow you to find your van if it's taken without your permission.

  • Keep track of your tools – there's 2 things you can do. Firstly, make a list of all your equipment, including the price of each item. And secondly, use a UV pen to mark your tools, so if they're found by the police after they go missing, you'll be able to identify if they're yours.

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