Van Security for Tradespeople:
How to keep your van safe from thieves
Van security should be a top priority for tradespeople. With your tools and materials vulnerable inside your van and your livelihood depending on them, it’s important that your van is secure and protected from thieves.
There has been a rising number of van break-ins and tool theft in the UK, with an average 30 vans stolen every day. A total of 43,000 vans have been stolen and 117,000 vans have been broken into since 2016.
For a tradesperson, a damaged van and no tools can mean not only work downtime and loss of money, but also missing future appointments and losing business contracts and potential customers.
In England and Wales, between 2017 and 2019, it’s been estimated that the cost of tools stolen has exceeded £83 million and only less than 3% of these stolen tools are returned to their owners.
We are here to help recommend the top security measures to install into your van to help keep your van and tools safe from thieves.
If you are looking to purchase a van, it is best to look around at make and models available and find out what security options are already fitted in the vehicle. Look out for potential weak spots in the van, like windows in the back and side of the van. If possible, look for vans with no side or back windows, as these are ideal of thieves to look inside.
If you already own a van, make sure you know which security features are already installed and if you make any changes, to always notify your insurance provider.
If you are currently leasing a van, always check with the leasing company first before adding any additional security measures to the van. It is also advised to check with the leasing company to see if they recommend and fit any security items.
No matter your situation, remember to have your van insured with good cover that extends to your tools inside. Don’t always go for the cheapest cover available, make sure you are carefully choosing the right insurance for you. It is worth spending money on insurance from a good, reputable supplier.
Thatcham approved security
Where you can, look out for the Thatcham accreditations on all security items, as this is the mark of the automotive test house who monitor the quality of production of the item as well as attack testing the security products.
A category 1 alarm combines an immobiliser and an alarm in one. Having one fitted in your van can even help lower your insurance premium. You can find a full list of what each of Thatcham’s categories mean here.
Van security locks
Locks are arguably the most important safety feature on any van. Don’t settle for the standard locks that come with your van, always look for ways you can enhance them.
If you own your van, it is highly recommended that you upgrade the locking facility to a more secure system. If you lease your van, don’t just accept that is the only choice you have, instead, ask your leasing company if they have any alternative locks available that you could upgrade to.
Deadlocks require you to double lock your van, bolting the doors shut with no spring mechanism, making it hard to force open. They are ideal for drivers who can be relied upon to lock the doors, as unlike with slamlocks, it will not lock by itself upon closing. You can buy deadlocks here.
Slamlocks are great because they lock your door automatically when you slam it shut, meaning no need for a key to lock it. They are ideal for vans that do multiple drops or high value loads, or tradespeople going back and forth between their vans regularly. You can buy slamlocks from here.
Reasonably priced at around £40, Stoplock’s can be fitted to both your rear doors and sliding doors. They work by linking both sides together, making it difficult for a thief to break, even if they use a pry bar. You can buy your Stoplock here.
Lock protection plates
Protection locks work by covering the weakest area of your locks, which would normally be targeted by being cut into or drilled into. The lock plate acts as a deterrent to thieves, as breaking into a lock with a plate on is harder and more time consuming.
They are a small investment, and simple to fit onto your van. If your van has previously been broken into via the locking mechanism, then a protection plate could be ideal as plates can cover any damage previously made and any weak spots visible to a thief. You can find high quality protection plates, like Armaplate, here.
Van security alarms
CarLock is a device that plugs into your OBD (on board diagnostics) and notifies you of any unusual behaviour, via its real time tracking system.
The device is managed through an app, and when CarLock is activated it will alert you when: your vehicles engine starts without you, any unusual vibrations such as the use of power tools or prying are detected, if CarLock device is removed from the vehicle, when extreme acceleration and breaking is detected, when you car battery is low and even if your vehicle is being towed away.
Your OBD is located under your steering wheel, near where your knee would be. There is an initial device fee for CarLock, and then a monthly/annual pay to receive updates to your phone is required. You can buy your Carlock here.
GSM silent alarms
If a thief is going to break into your van, there is ultimately nothing that will absolutely stop them, but there is something that could catch them in the act. GSM silent alarms are fitted into your vehicle, which then alerts you via text or phone call when there is unusual activity, silently alerting you of a theft attack.
They are expensive to install, but if you are thinking of advancing your van security or have experienced a previous break in, then GSM silent alarms might be worth considering. They act like a normal burglar alarm that uses wireless PIR’s, but the difference is this is totally silent. With some GSM alarms, you can even listen in to the action, after answering the call.
Windows are a weak target, which is why it is important that you don’t settle for passersby being able to see inside your van. With a few simple quick fixes, you can block their view and stop their temptation to chance cracking into your van.
A simple trick to deter anyone from looking inside your van is window tints. You can either have it done professionally, are you can buy stick on tints. An added bonus of installing window tints is that they also help keep the inside of your van cool, by blocking UV rays. Find a window tint or cover here.
Steel window grilles
A common way thieves break in is through the windows, as this is a weak spot on the vehicle. However, by installing steel window grills, you can stop the thieves from cutting through the window seal and removing the glass to get inside the vehicle.
Window grilles are tailored to the specific make and model of your van and are a proven visual deterrent against thieves, as immediately your van is not seen as an easy target. Most grilles are made from coated steel and are easy to fit, with prices starting from £60. Find a grille to suit your car make and model here.
Additional van security
If you’ve already got your windows secured and locks fitted, maybe you’re looking for some additional security tricks for your van? Or maybe you are looking for a simpler way to protect your livelihood?
If you have ladders on your van, don’t trust that they are secure overnight on a roof rack, make sure you lock them in place too. Using something like a Rhino SafeClamp means that once the ladders are mounted to a roof rack, they are then locked into position, with only a key being able to unlock each clamp. You can buy your ladder clamp here.
By adding a tracker to your van, you know where it is at all times and if it moves. If you are in charge of a large fleet of vans, then trackers are great for knowing where your employees are at all times.
In 2015, it has been reported that only 38% of stolen vans were actually recovered to the owners. This could have been higher had vehicles had a tracker fitted to find and recover the van quickly and easily. For example, if your van was stolen, with a tracker fitted, you would be able to raise the alarm quickly and alert the police, who could then track and recover the vehicle for you. Find a van tracker to suit your business here.
If you do not want to remove your tools from your van every night and are looking for a secure place to keep them in your van, a Van Vault could be ideal. They are said to be near impossible for thieves to break into and some are even fire resistant.
Made from thick steel, there are various sizes available of heavy duty van boxes available that will keep your tools safe from thieves. The newest is the Van Vault 3 and you can also buy ‘Stackers’ that are slide out drawers, which can be used on their own or can be joined to existing Van Vaults. You can buy your van vault here.
Van Vault also have van lock which claims to be ultra-resistant to break-ins and is made from stainless steel and galvanised nickel. It also has an anti-drilling and anti-picking cylinder, and has a universal fit to suit any vans’ sliding or rear doors.
It is becoming increasingly popular for cars and vans to have dash cams fitted, as it adds another level of protection for the driver, whether it be for video recording while the vehicle is parked or to monitor other vehicles on the road.
For insurance purposes, they monitor and record the road while driving, providing proof if you are involved in an accident. Some dash cams will also record all night, even when your engine is turned off, recording any movement around it and any theft or damages made to the vehicle. You can buy a variety of dash cams online and from various high street retailers.
Steering wheel lock
Steering wheel bars are used in both cars and vans, and are highly rated by the police as a top security tip. Unlike steering wheel bars, Disklok slides over the whole steering wheel, preventing thieves from damaging your steering wheel to just get a bar lock off.
Disklok is approved by Thatcham, category 3, and has been highly rated by tradespeople. Should a thief try to remove it, it will just spin, even if they take tools to it. Steering wheel locks can also sometimes reduce your insurance premiums. You can buy your Disklok here.
Top tips on how to improve your van security
- Don’t store your tools in the van overnight. As time consuming as it is to remove them every day, it is worthwhile when the alternative is to lose all of your tools. Start by taking your most valuable tools in every night.
- When you’re popping in and out of a property, don’t be tempted to just leave your van open. This is an easy target for opportune thieves.
- Take regular photos of the inside of your van and your tools inside for insurance purposes. This way, should anything happen, you have proof (with a date visible) and it will make the process of making an insurance claim easier.
- If you lease your van, make sure you speak to your leasing company first before adding on any safety features of your own. They may be able to add on additional security for you at a reduced cost.
- At night, if parked on a drive, park your van as close to a wall as possible, making it impossible for thieves to get behind and in the back of the vehicle.
- Don’t hide that your van has added security. Simple use of stickers can put thieves off, letting them know the van is alarmed or protected. (for example ‘no tools are left in this van’)