Data obtained by the BBC from 30 police forces show that thefts from vans increased to 22,749 in 2016/17 from 14,063 in 2014/15, a rise of 62%.
“These figures are consistent with what we are hearing from fleets at the moment,” Arval’s LCV Manager Simon Cook said. “In our experience, van crime tends to occur in cycles. Thieves devise a new method of breaking into a van, operators adopt ways of preventing it, and there follows a decrease in the crime. Then, new techniques start to appear, and the whole thing happens again.”
He said that current methods of theft involved using tools to break through the structure of the vehicle or obtaining commercially-available transponder keys to open vans.
“Manufacturers are trying to increase payload and one method is to reduce the weight of the van by using lighter steel,” he explained. “Unfortunately, this means it is easier to cut through the fabric of the van or bend door frames. Also, while manufacturers have done much to reduce the effectiveness of transponder keys on newer models, they are still affecting some vehicles that currently remain on fleets.”
There is no single solution to the problem of van theft, but there are several steps businesses can take to reduce the risk:
Fit the right security equipment.
Popular options include slam locks and trackers. Look at which will be the best way to protect
your van and make it difficult, noisy or time consuming for thieves to get in.
Protect the keys. Modern locking systems make it comparatively difficult to break into many vans through the locks, so thieves often target the keys. Ensure drivers keep them secure and out of sight at all times.
Selective branding. A heavily liveried van is a good ad for your business – but also an indication of what’s inside as some criminals target certain industries or even companies. If you are being targeted by thieves, adopting plain, white vans might be a good move. Major fleets have certainly done this in the past.
Park in a sensible place. If your van is being left for a long period of time, especially overnight, make sure it is parked close to an occupied building or in a conspicuous, well-lit location.
Get the right advice. Making your vans more secure can be expensive. You can easily add up to £1,000 to the cost of a van in locks and other security-related items. So make sure you are getting professional advice and utilising relevant information that will enable you to fit the right equipment to the right vans operating in the right areas.
“We work closely with businesses to examine the kind of crime that is affecting their fleet and come up with the best solutions,” Simon Cook added. “This can range from knowing which kind of locks work best on a particular model of van to interrogating insurance statistics to identify which of your vehicles are operating in high-risk, high-crime areas.