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Chloe of Vanarama Insurance explains how you can avoid becoming a victim of this terrible crime.
It's obvious, I know, but you would be amazed by the number of people who forget to lock their van when they are loading or unloading, or even popping to their local builders' merchants. Thieves view this as the perfect opportunity to make away with some of your tools, phone, wallet, satnav or wallet while you're shopping for items. Many vans are fitted with automatic folding mirrors that act as a great way of checking whether your van is locked, but I don't recommend relying on this alone. It takes little effort to double check that your van is locked, and by doing so, you save yourself a lot of heartache and money.
"No tools are kept in this van overnight". We have all seen these on many vans, yet crimes are still being committed. It is understandable that after a long day on the road and a hard day's graft, that you may be tempted to leave your valuables such as your sat nav in plain sight, but this only acts as an advertisement for thieves to target your van. Hide it away or take it indoors with you. The criminal may get away with nothing, but you will still be left with a broken window, the inconvenience and the cost of having to replace the window.
You don't have to invest in expensive security precautions to protect your van – take the Thatcham approved lock, although these are slowly dying out from the 90s and are becoming less popular than other devices, they still provide an extra obstacle for thieves to overcome. Using a Thatcham approved lock will help to reduce your insurance premium too.
As mentioned in the previous point, it is very important to take expensive tools and equipment out of your van where possible. Understandably, when you're out on a job, this isn't always possible. I recommend investing in a secure storage system as this can really deter thieves and give you the peace of mind that your tools and equipment are safe.
There are various designs out on the market that start from £100. They can include drawer systems, chests and some are designed specifically to keep your tools safe if a pickup is your choice of transportation.
In recent years, there has been a rise in cat thefts, as criminals attempt to cash in by selling them for scrap. Your van's catalytic converter controls the emissions produced and can be found in the exhaust of your van. It is made up of various precious metals, including palladium and platinum. fortunately, you can buy a clamp that makes the removal of the converter very difficult.
Although they aren't the cheapest of security measures to buy, it is a worthwhile buy especially for tradespeople who have more than one van or for those that have fallen victim to the crime in the past.
Believe it or not, some thieves are still using the coat hanger trick. This is where they use a coat hanger to fish van keys through a letterbox from the hallway table or side. Most of us may think that 'this will never happen to me' but as the old adage goes, "prevention is better than cure". If thieves can get a hold of your keys, they can steal your van without your alarms going off, forcing the doors open or breaking the window.
Not all modern vans have an alarm and engine immobiliser as standard so it is worth investing in a decent alarm system. You can purchase a basic system from around £30, and what this does is that it stops your engine from running unless the correct key has been inserted into the ignition.
Okay, so a tracker will not prevent your van from being stolen, but it will help you to trace its whereabouts, giving you a much better chance of getting your tools and van back. There are various trackers on the market to suit all budgets ranging from basic GPS systems that can be found on Amazon, to much more expensive kits that also help to lower your insurance premium.
Professionally fitted trackers are hidden away and wired into the van. If the van is stolen, the owner contacts the tracker company and the police. The tracker is activated and its signal is traced by the police, giving them a much better chance of catching the criminal and retrieving the van.
Last, but not the least important tip is insurance. It's worth spending money on additional security measures, but make sure your van and all of its contents are properly insured to give you that peace of mind.
I recommend getting a fully comprehensive cover of your vehicle and be sure to read the small print as not all fully comp policies are the same. If you use your van to deliver expensive items or to carry expensive tools, you may not be covered under your motor insurance policy, so you'll need additional cover such as Goods in Transit or Tools in Transit.
It is best to remember that sometimes paying a little more will save you a lot of hassle, heartache and money should the worst happen.