Van Security – It’s something I doubt any tradesman takes for granted. This is of course where you keep all of your expensive tools, paperwork and manuals. Your livelihood is contained in this mobile “office”.
But what if you were a victim of thieves, what if it happened where you least expected? Would you be prepared?
I recently heard a story about a heating engineer who was pick pocketed by a gang in central London. He was visiting a Plumber’s merchant, his van parked securely in the merchant’s car park (or so he thought).
As he made his way through the shop, a place he considered safe, he became an unsuspecting target. He was bumped into by 2 of the thieves and a commotion was caused. This distracted him long enough for 2 other pickpockets to carry out their work undetected.
Before he had time to realise what was going on, his keys had been taken from him. Clearly the gang had purposefully chosen the Plumber’s merchant with a view to targeting tradesmen and their vans. It would not be difficult to spot a plumber in overalls, especially at a merchant’s!
He was delayed further by 2 of the thieves as he realised that his vehicle was being stolen but did not realise they were all working in unison.
They were able to drive off with his van and the van’s contents; his business and source of income disappearing before him. It was a quick and professional job, planned out and executed with precision in a place usually considered safe.
Although the victim had strong boxes and additional security he kept all of his keys on the same key ring, loose in his pocket. The police were able to analyse the CCTV footage and identify the pickpockets. It was only when reviewing the footage that it was clear there was a team of thieves working together.
It was of course too late, there would not be much hope in recovering the tools as they would be quickly sold off.
This is an unfortunate situation, and involves a degree of bad luck but it is not uncommon. Vans are a target for thieves, particularly their contents and to get into the vehicles the thieves need to identify the vans owner and take the keys.
I am sure that most of you don’t just rely on standard van security. Strongboxes are commonplace along with extra locks but what use is extra security if you don’t avoid simple yet costly mistakes?
Thieves are not stupid
The example above shows that when the loot is worth it thieves will have a plan. Pick pockets often work in gangs, something most of us would take for granted. If you make yourself a target with carelessness (leaving items on display or doors unlocked) you could end up the hapless victim.
There is also the frightening fact that thieves are targeting tradespeople at merchants, the last place you’d probably expect to become a victim of crime.
Be vigilant, even in familiar surroundings
Just because you’re in a shop and not walking through an estate at 3 in the morning does not mean you are safe from thieves. That’s not to say you should be in a constant state of fear. So although you may be targeted if you are prepared you have nothing to worry about. In public spaces the threat of physical violence is slim at best.
Always be alert in places like petrol stations and when stopping at cafes etc. Try and ensure that your vehicle is in a visible space rather than hidden in a corner. If you can park in view of cameras or near street lights that is also a good idea.
Another good rule of thumb is if something doesn’t feel right, question it and be extra cautious.
Most thieves will be able to break into any standard van lock so it is a good idea to add extra locks. Deadlocks and Slamlocks are a popular choice, with the latter engaging automatically when you close your doors. If you do use deadlocks make sure you remember to lock them, they don’t work automatically like a Slamlock.
Make it obvious that your van has added security. Use stickers to highlight the extra locks and let people know your van is alarmed. This can act as a deterrent.
Lock covers and cover plates are also worth investing in, offering an extra visual deterrent as well as an extra protective barrier between the thief and the lock mechanism.
Separate and secure your keys
This is a simple, yet easily forgotten habit to take up. If you invest in extra van locks what use are they if you don’t make sure that the keys are secure. Keeping all of your keys on the same key ring is a big mistake.
The victim in the example given earlier had all his keys attached to the same key ring. This rendered all of his extra locks and strong boxes useless. The thieves had instant access to everything.
To avoid this, simply make sure you separate your standard van keys from your extra lock keys and strongbox keys. It’s also a good idea to have them attached to your person with a Belt clip key ring, a chain or a lanyard.
Petty thieves are more likely to go for your windows rather than try to unlock doors. Keep things out of site as a rule.
You can also invest in window grilles, window blinds or blanks which come in a variety of different shapes and sizes.
Tracking devices will aid the police in locating your vehicle after theft. Often it’s not the van that is of any real value to the thieves though, it is the contents and a tracker won’t really offer much hope of recovering your tools.
It’s still a good idea to invest in a GPS tracking device, especially if you are leasing the vehicle.
Don’t store your tools in your van over night
This may seem like a time consuming annoyance for many of you, but it’ll save you the time, money and effort of replacing your lost equipment. Take the time to do it when you finish work and mark your van as empty with stickers – this will act as a deterrent to thieves.
Don’t leave your van open when you are out of sight
It seems like an obvious one but it’s amazing how many van owners leave their vans open and unattended when going back and forth to a property. Take what you need initially then lock up. At least keep the cab locked. If you need constant access to the back make sure all of your tools are secure and locked up when you leave it unattended.
Logic4trade has a variety of secure tool storage solutions, strongboxes and other vehicle accessories. Click here to check them out