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As a tradesperson, your van and tools are vital to your business, and losing them to theft can have significant financial and operational consequences - not to mention the effect on mental health and personal well being. While it's challenging to change the behaviour of criminals, there are steps you can take to help reduce the likelihood of theft and protect your property.
In a recent report carried out by Direct Line, 2022 saw over 35,000 tool thefts reported to the police - a 13 per cent increase from 2021, with a value of approximately £66 million. It goes to show that these staggering statistics highlight the fact that van and tool thefts continue to rise, with little help from the police in taking the crime seriously.
How do you keep tools secure?
- Install an alarm system: a reliable alarm system is a highly effective deterrent against thieves. Choose a system with motion sensors and a loud siren to draw attention to any unauthorised entry attempts.
- Fit deadlocks: deadlocks add an extra layer of security by reinforcing your van's doors, making them more resistant to forced entry.
- Consider immobilisers: immobilisers prevent your van from being started without the correct key or code. They significantly reduce the risk of theft by immobilising the engine. Thatcham approved immobilisers, and other vehicle security measures, are known to help bring down the cost of insurance too.
- Install security cameras: CCTV cameras at home or on site can deter criminals and provide valuable evidence in case of a break-in.
- Use security markings: marking your van and its equipment with a unique identification number or an owner's mark can deter thieves and aid recovery if stolen. Engraving your hand tools and power tools with your details will also make them difficult for the thief to resell.
- Keep a record: maintain a detailed record of the contents of your van, including tools, their serial numbers, and make and models. Regularly take photos of your van and its contents to speed up the insurance claim process in case of theft.
- GPS tracker: if your van is stolen, a GPS tracker can be the key to the police tracking it down and returning it to you. While it may be damaged, at least you’ll have the peace-of-mind of knowing where it is and that the thieves have been caught.
Secure your van's contents
- Install secure storage solutions: consider fitting lockable storage compartments or secure tool boxes inside your van. This helps keep your valuable tools and equipment out of sight and inaccessible to potential thieves.
- Use window grilles or tinting: window grilles or tinting can prevent prying eyes from seeing what's inside your van, reducing the likelihood of theft.
- Remove valuables overnight: whenever possible, take valuable tools and equipment out of your van overnight to minimise the potential loss in case of a break-in.
- Choose secure parking locations: whenever possible, park your van in well-lit, populated areas with CCTV coverage. Look for secure car parks or those with a Park Mark accreditation. If you’re at home, always choose to use your garage should you have one.
- Park against a wall: when parking, try to position your van against a solid wall or another vehicle to make unauthorised access more difficult.
- Utilise van security products: use steering wheel locks, wheel clamps, or a parking post to further deter theft and immobilise your van.
How can we prevent tool theft?
- Be vigilant: stay alert and report any suspicious activity near your van or in your neighbourhood to the police.
- Keep keys secure: avoid leaving your van keys in an easily accessible location, such as near windows or in plain sight. Consider using a key signal blocker pouch to protect against relay attacks.
- Upgrade locks: if your van has standard factory-fitted locks, consider upgrading them to more secure options approved by the manufacturer.
- Register tools and equipment: registering your tools and equipment on a national property database such as Immobilise, Equipment Register or Tool Watch, will make it easier for the police to recover stolen items and return them to their rightful owners. Bear in mind some tool registration services will have a small fee while others are free to use, but will still require you to open an account.
- Don’t leave your tools unattended: easier said than done if you’re in and out of your van on a job - moving materials and getting the right tool, but opportunistic thieves will always take advantage of a knab-and-grab opportunity.
- Advertise your security measures: display stickers or signs that indicate your van is protected and tools are not kept inside overnight. This can act as a deterrent for potential thieves.
It's important to prioritise personal safety along with tool security too. Avoid confrontations with thieves if you discover a theft in progress. Instead, immediately contact the police and provide them with any relevant information or evidence you may have.
As well as making sure you have the correct level of insurance, implementing these security measures and staying vigilant can help significantly reduce the risk of theft.
Remember to regularly review and update your security systems to stay one step ahead of potential thieves. Protecting your van not only safeguards your livelihood but also provides peace of mind in an increasingly challenging world.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this page is intended as an overall introduction and is not intended as specific advice from a qualified professional. Travis Perkins aims to avoid, but accepts no liability, in the case that any information stated is out of date.