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Van security – how to keep thieves out!

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Jul 21, 2017

If your business depends on a van to function, then your vehicle and its contents are probably one of your business’s biggest assets.

So, it makes a lot of sense to protect your van and what it carries in the best way possible – and if that entails a modest amount of investment, then it’s surely worthwhile.

Total prevention of the theft of your van or its contents is simply impossible. But there’s plenty you can do to make life as hard as possible for a criminal – and that may be all that’s needed to persuade them to move on and find another target.

Sadly, it’s the case that commercial vehicles such as vans, which often contain valuable tools and equipment that can be easily converted into cash, are popular targets for experienced criminals.

The ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service reports that the criminals’ favourite target by far remains the Ford transit van.

Food for thought for any ‘man and his van’ business and a very good reason to ensure you have a good insurance product.

Much of the security advice offered by the ACPO comes firmly under the heading of common sense, and most criminal events are down to carelessness on the part of the owner. Simple things, but if you don’t do them, you make your vehicle so much more of a target.

NOT taking care to do the following is the biggest cause by far of van thefts and theft of the contents of vans.


* Never leave your van keys in sight either inside your business premises or house.

* Lock up whenever you leave your van, even if it’s only for a brief moment.

* Try, wherever possible, to park your van in a secure place overnight, such as a garage or a compound.

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So, what else can you do to deter the thief?

Probably the number one reason thieves take vans is for their contents.

If you’re a tradesman, you almost certainly need to carry valuable equipment on board your vehicle.  Whenever possible – and clearly, it often is not going to be possible – you should remove all valuable equipment from the van, especially overnight.

If you do have to store your gear in the van, then make sure you have the right insurance policy to cover this.

There are other measures you can take.

To protect the van itself, make sure you advertise the fact that nothing of value is kept inside overnight. This may or may not deter thieves, but it’s worth doing anyway.

While it’s difficult to make the van itself super-hard to break into, it is possible to create a fortress inside the van by using a van box or van vault.

These are essentially safe boxes, usually made of steel, that are fixed to the van’s interior.

They offer a number of features, such as locks that can’t be easily drilled out. They are available in various sizes and could make a great investment.

Another option is the van bulkhead, which is a metal partition between the van’s cab and the storage area. 

Not only is a bulkhead a deterrent to thieves, it’s also a useful safety device as it prevents goods from the rear of the van shooting forward in the event of sudden, fierce braking.  It also helps keep the cab warmer in cold temperatures!

One fairly easy way into a van is through glass windows.

There are two common ways of removing this opportunity for the would-be thief.

The windows can be protected by grilles. These are usually made of meshed steel and can be seen through, but are extremely difficult to puncture. 

The other, more extreme, option is to replace the window altogether with a steel sheet.

Thieves are often opportunists and many a tradesman has found their van is very vulnerable when they are making short stops or deliveries.

Here, the pattern is often to jump out the van and close the door. Once you are out of sight, however briefly, this is a moment of opportunity for a determined thief to gain entry.

Most van doors are fitted with standard spring-loaded locks, which can be forced.

These can be greatly enhanced by fitting a deadlock, either one that’s operated by a key or by remote.

Another useful option, designed especially for those making multiple deliveries is the ‘slamlock’. This, as the name suggests, locks the door immediately it’s slammed shut.

Whatever security options you install, make sure you have adequate insurance cover and make sure your van complies with the minimum levels of security required by the policy.

For more advice on cutting down your van costs, check out our 11 hacks for reducing the cost of your van insurance


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