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Guide to preventing tool theft from vans

Gutted. What else can you say? The ugly bend in your van door says it all.
Another van break-in confirming the grim statistic that in the UK a van gets broken into every 23 minutes!

You peer into the vehicle not expecting to see your tools. Sure enough…

Here’s how you can protect your tools (and your income).

1. Lock your van and close your windows

Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? However, it’s too easy to forget when you’re ‘just running in for a minute’.

2. Park in the light

Crooks love darkness. If your van is parked at home overnight consider installing motion-sensitive lighting.

3. Choose a tight spot

Park in a corner to make the side and rear doors inaccessible.

4. Closed circuit TV to protect commercial vehicles

CCTV can be installed on a building as well as in your van.

West Yorkshire Police have an interesting rundown on their website about CCTV and alarm systems for homes.

5. Alarm systems

Van alarm systems, that alert you by phone as soon as the vehicle is tampered with, are a strong defence and can foil burglars before they do too much damage.

6. Invincible tool storage

Okay, nothing’s really invincible, but there are some pretty tough tool storage solutions around today. You want to make it difficult, if not impossible, for your tools to get stolen even if some loser does get into your van.

For secure in-vehicle equipment storage, we count on the Armorgard range.
The Trekdror™ is a tool fortress built with a robust 1.5mm corrugated steel casing, and 5-lever deadlocks to foil the most determined thief. Fixing points are built into the casing to allow the Trekdror to be bolted down firmly.

The Tuffbank™ range comes in several sizes and adheres to rigorous test standards required by the police.

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Secured by Design Logo

7. Know their tactics

This article is not designed to be a handbook for budding tool thieves, but there are several dirty little tricks that have been used over the last few years that you need to know about.

Builderstalkgroup polled a number of tradespeople whose vans had been burgled.
Here’s a list of the break-in techniques by percentage that were used on the victims’ vans, plus some suggestions on how to stop them.

  • The simple screwdriver – 37%
    Shove it in the lock, wiggle it around, grab and run.
    Use advanced locking systems that make locks difficult to pick.
    Prevent the lock from being gouged out of the door by adding van lock protection plates.
  • The Tibbe Key – 35%
    Originally a locksmith’s tool, this skeleton-type key was devised by Ford in 1982.
    It’s a gadget that has become far too readily available and the well-equipped burglar wouldn’t leave home without it.
     Replace the original factory locks with advanced locksmith-fitted locks, or add deadlocks or slamlocks to all doors so that even if the factory locks are forced the deadlocks will remain secure. And set that alarm.
  • Smashed windows – 11%. If you have the choice, use windowless work vans and block access from the cab to the cargo area with a strong partition. Failing that, don’t let them see in! Black out your windows with heavy tinting, and use steel window grills for further fortification.
  • Peel and Steal –  8% A tactic that’s been ‘perfected’ over time. The van door is bent out of shape to the point that it can be forced open. No tools required.   Additional deadbolts fitted close to the top and bottom of the door will not allow burglars to prise the door away from its opening.
  • Scanning device to steal remote key codes – 7%
    Some crooks use ‘jammers’ to intercept the signal between the key fob and the car when it’s being locked remotely.
    Make sure that your vehicle is locked before walking away.
    Use a key fob that can be turned off when not in use.
  • And the final 2%? Hack a hole in the roof or the side panel!

Some statistics

According to an October 2019 report from Simply Business:

  • There was a 54% increase in tool theft claims across the UK between 2016 and 2018.
  • 37% of tradespeople have fallen victim to tool theft.
  • The average worth of tools stolen equates to more than a month’s earnings (£2,135).
  • 72% are forced to take time off work after having their tools stolen.
  • 33% said their tools were stolen from a building site – either from their van or from the site itself.
  • 16% had tools stolen while their van was parked in the street or a public car park.

The statistics aren’t in yet, but it appears that the arrival of COVID-19 has not helped the situation. In fact it appears to be worsening.

Don’t leave your tool security to chance!


On Key

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