How thieves break into vans

So what are we up against? According to a Federation of Master Builders poll in October 2018, over half (51%) of builders had been victims of tool theft.

  • Some 46% of van break-ins involved a prised-open side panel or door (‘peel and steal’)
  • 23% had windows broken and doors opened from the dashboard
  • 22% had locks picked

And as van door lock security moves with the times, so do the thieves. Vans with electronic locks can also be targeted, using a relay box to effectively replicate the owner’s key fob. Keyless theft is particularly insidious, as it leaves no trace. Plus it can be some time before the van owner realises they’ve been a victim of theft.

Keeping your tools safe in the back

On top of keeping your van locked when you’re working and it’s unattended, another way to keep your stuff safe is to unload all the tools while not working.

But if it’s not practical or possible to unload fully at the end of every working day, it’s smart to take additional steps to protect whatever you keep in the back.

Keep equipment out of sight, so you’re not presenting a menu to would-be thieves. If the back of the van has windows, consider getting them tinted, or getting a window blank or grille. You can also get a sticker which states no tools are kept in the vehicle overnight.

These visible features have the supplementary benefit of showing you care about your vehicle’s security, which can deter thieves in itself. It sends a message you’re not going to make it easy for them.

You can add an extra level of safety with a tool store, which can be secured to the inside of the van. If it’s impractical to unload your kit at the end of every day, a steel storage box with integrated lock could prove invaluable.

If the van doesn’t already have one, install a bulkhead to separate the cab from the rear. If you have entirely separate locks in the cab and the back, and make sure you can’t open the rear of the van from the dash, this will frustrate any attempts to steal equipment via smashing cab windows.

Specialist alarms

Most vans come with built-in alarm systems as standard, however these are often not built to protect your vehicle from the modern thief. Increasingly more and more people are turning to specialist aftermarket van alarms to protect their van.

When shopping for a van alarm, keep the following aspects in mind:

  • Get an alarm system with multiple sensors. There are several types of sensor, including windows sensors, door sensors, motion sensors and tilt sensors – which sound if the vehicle is being towed. You can also get pressure sensors, which sound when there’s changes to air pressure, such as when a door or window is forced open.
  • Look for an alarm system with a two-way remote. These tell you that your command, such as locking the doors, has been successful with a beep or light flash. Some alarm manufacturers now have dedicated apps that allow you to check and control your security system remotely.

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