Introduction: As a experienced van security specialist company supplying security equipment for vans in The UK, here at VanGadgets.co.uk we receive calls every single working day from customers that have had their van broken into (usually over night with something having been stolen). With rising rates of vehicle crime and break-ins, one of the first questions we ask our customers is “Have you secured the load area of your vehicle” (as this is usually the most vulnerable part of the van, containing the most high-value items such as tools, equipment and stock etc). Here are a few of our top-tips, some you might already know but there are also some additional very important less obvious ones you might want to consider…
1) Keep it locked – The golden rule is of course to always keep the van locked, at all times, even if your are just popping into a shop or visiting a customer for 5 or 10 minutes. Physical security devices and deterrents such as van security locks are an obvious way of avoiding attempted theft from your vehicle but there are also a few of other very important tips that you might want to to consider…
2) Night time parking – Wherever possible, always try to park the vehicle in a well lit area. Vehicles parked in secluded non-residential areas such as public car parks are targeted by thieves as they are unlikely to be disturbed. Don’t leave anything of value or even of interest on display in the cab area. If the van has glazed rear doors (or even possibly glazed side doors), consider installing some metal window grilles or solid window blanks for greater security. If your budget doesn’t allow for this, some ply panels or at least some silver window foil is far better than nothing at all. Keep prying eyes away from the vehicle’s contents!
3) Day time parking – Thieves don’t just work at night (as some of us might think!). Your van is just as vulnerable during the day as it is at night. Opportunist thieves love vans that are tucked out of the way on industrial estates. Even during the day in DIY store car parks there can be problems. We hear of customers that pop into well known DIY stores to collect a few things and come out to find the van has been broken into. Usually having the lock barrels removed or a screwdriver punched into the door skin just below the lock. Our advice is to always try to park as close as possible to the main public entrance to the building, tucked away in a little corner right at the back is NOT a good idea! Lock cover protection plates are a good investment as they protect the van’s locking system from screwdriver type attacks as mentioned earlier.
4) Partition the cab area – The item best known for securing the front cab area from the rear load area of the vehicle is know as a van bulkhead, (supplied by us in metal with window or mesh options for greater security… as well as increased load area safety). Ideal for keeping prying eyes away from your motor! We have seen wooden ones being sold on-line but have heard of customers having had them kicked-through during a break-in. There are also other issues with wooden bulkheads, safety issues. For example, driving down the motorway at 70 mph and having to slam the breaks on with a full load in the back is not ideal as the contents of the load area may well end up in the front, having broken through the flimsy wooden partition! Please think carefully before installing any wooden type partition!
5) Alarms – An alarm is of an obvious solution and well recommended by us… even though we don’t sell them ourselves! We would suggest installing an immobiliser type alarm as this will physically stop the engine from being started, well worth considering. Our advice here though is to always use a local alarm installation company as most alarms these days operate using microwaves which detect movement in the vehicle, usually in the cab area. Upon installation, you might find that the sensitivity of the microwave setting on the alarm needs adjusting as it may well keep going off a bit randomly at first. Having an installer nearby will enable you to have the adjustment done quickly (rather than buying and installing an alarm yourself and being riddled with teething problems and possibly sleepless nights… and possibly very upset neighbours!
6) Vehicle livery and branding – An important decision only YOU can make is whether or not to advertise your brand or service directly on the vehicle that you or your employees drive. For example, a carpenter advertising his services on the side of his van can of course attract business from new customers. He would also need to be aware that it may very well also attract the attention of a few unwanted customers too, criminals! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that the van would very likely be carrying expensive power tools and equipment in the back! Consider if advertising your brand on your vehicle is worth while and will encourage new business, if not, keep the vehicle as plain as possible to avoid any unwanted attention!
7) Vehicle satellite tracking – A fairly new security concept but also worth checking out even if you are a one-man-band. Rates for this type of high-tech vehicle security are becoming very competitive. Traditionally used mostly by high-value goods carrying companies, rates are now so competitive, it might be worth speaking to your van insurance broker about it first as they may well offer you a significant discount on your policy if such a device were to be fitted!
8) Internal storage security – If a thief were to break into your vehicle, don’t make it easy for them to just walk away with your belongings! Securing expensive equipment is a must. With a range of secure tool boxes for vans available on the market, our advice here is buy one of these and use it, always! Rather than leaving power tools and other items simply laying around in the back of the van, locking items away further reduces the impact of a potential break in. Very Important Note: Always anchor the box to the floor or bulkhead, both is better. This will stop a thief just walking off with it if it’s bolted down.
9) External storage security – Often overlooked by van users but equally important as our previous suggestions. If it’s on show, secure it! Ladders are by far the most common item stolen from the roof of a van. A small investment will put an end to it straight away. Instead of using rope, consider some lockable ladder clamps. Cheap to buy and easy to use, they also make your life a lot easier as they are very quick to secure ladders. Copper tubing is another item often stolen from roof racks. Instead of leaving expensive eye-catching copper on the roof of your van, secure it and keep eyes away from it using an aluminium pipe tube carrier. With several lengths and diameters to choose from, they’re a great long term investment (especially if you’re a plumber or heating engineer) and can easily be transferred to a different vehicle when the time comes to sell your old van.
10) Cash in transit solutions – If your a business that carries notes or coins in your vehicles, a cardboard box or cash tin isn’t ideal! With drivers often nipping into a shop for a newspaper (or popping round the back for a pee!) upon their return only to discover the window having been broken… and your cash stolen. A vehicle cash safe will reduce this risk considerably. Bolted through the floor of the vehicle for extra peace of mind and reduced risk of loss.
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