Van users can be at risk from theft, the new business manager at Northgate Vehicle hire has provided a selection of top tips for van owners to help to protect them.
As well as vans themselves being valuable items, there are often valuable things stored inside them such as tools and equipment. Thieves know this and that is one reason why 47,000 commercial vans are stolen in the UK each year. In total this amounts to a cost of £152m. This is not only costly for someone who has the van stolen in terms of replacing lost items, it means that their insurance will go up and they will miss work when they are trying to source a new van and sort out the problems associated with the theft. This could have a huge effect on a business, especially a small one that relies on that van and tools. Therefore it is really important to protect your vehicle so that it is not susceptible to theft and therefore you can avoid these problems. Many drivers put a sticker on the van to inform thieves that there are no tools left in the van overnight, but there are more things that you can do to make sure that you have the best possible protection.
It may sound really obvious but make sure that your van is locked. It can be really easy to forget to do this, perhaps if you are only leaving it for a few moments or if you are tired and just forget. If a heft occurs on an unlocked vehicle it is unlikely that the insurance company will pay out and this could be devastating. If your van and tools are stolen, you may not be able to afford to replace them and this could mean that you will be out of a job. If your van belongs to the business that you work for then you could end up losing your job due to your carelessness. This means that you should be really careful. Make sure you never leave the van open when unloading, leave it running when you make a delivery or leave the keys in it at a petrol station. These are all bad habits that it can be easy to get in to and they can invite thieves to take items form the vehicle or take the vehicle itself.
Some vehicles have a deadlock or double lock system. What this does is disables the internal handles if you press the locking device twice. This can be really useful as it will stop thieves being able to break in through a window as they will not be able to open the door form the inside. It can also be wise to lock your tools inside a box when in the van. This means that if they do get in, they will have to get past another lock to get any tools. Screwing the box securely inside the van will prevent them from picking it up and running away with it. It is worth knowing that most standard locks can easily be overcome just with a screwdriver and so it is worth fitting extra locks. Deadlocks as mentioned above can be wise but another option is a slam lock which will lock the van as soon as the doors are shut. You will have to pay to have these fitted but they could be a very worthwhile investment if they prevent a theft which could be extremely costly.
Many vans have the latches on the back door just connected with one wire. This means that if you know where to drill it is possible to pull an internal release wire that will open the door and enable a thief to take everything that is inside. There are anti-drill guards available as well as door handle protectors that can help to prevent this. Keeping your tools secured in a box as mentioned before would also help to secure things better, although once the back doors are open it can leave the van itself vulnerable to being taken away.
Claiming on insurance should always be a last resort. Once you make a claim your premiums will go up and although insurance is there to help you, you should not see it as an easy answer. You also need to be aware that insurance may not always pay out as much as you expect. As mentioned before, it is unlikely that they will pay out if the van and contents are not secure. They may also have a maximum pay out amount covering contents and this may even restrict how much you can claim per item. This means that if you have one really expensive item, you may not be able to get much of the money back on it. The best way to avoid this is to take your tools home at the end of the day. If it is not practical to take things with you, perhaps at the petrol station or on a job, then hide valuable items. Do not leave a laptop on the front seat, mobile phone on the dashboard or expensive tools visible as that will only tempt thieves to try to take them. It does not take long to hide things and it can make a big difference. Not only saving you money but all of the hassle associated with trying to replace it. It is worth also knowing that thieves have been known to use radio frequency jamming equipment which stop vehicles from locking and then when the driver is away from the car will enter the vehicle and steal things. If you have expensive items on show, they are more likely to target your vehicle as it looks worth the effort.
It is also worth getting to know your vehicle better. Certain manufacturers are known to have certain weaknesses which could make you vulnerable. For example it is known that Sprinters can be broken into and driven away just by swapping the electronic control unit and so by using a specific guard for this, it will mean that this cannot be done. It can also be worth using a GPS tracker so that it is easier to find a stolen vehicle if you think it is vulnerable. You van supplier might be able to help you to fit any security measures that will help your specific model be more protected from any vulnerabilities it might have.
If your vehicle is stolen then you need to work quickly to get your business back again. Find out if you can get an immediate replacement or pay for an insurance or work with your vehicle supplier to find out whether they can help to do this. Explain that theft will leave you vulnerable and hopefully they will be able to help to secure the vehicle against theft but also with what measures to take if theft does occur. This will prevent you from losing valuable business while you are sorting out the problems of the stolen van.
It is so important to always think about security. It is easy to assume that you will not be a victim but with the statistics so high, then your vehicle or tools could be extremely vulnerable. It is extremely expensive not only financially but also in time to sort out replacing stolen items. Whether this is tools or a vehicle it will take time away from work when you will really want to be earning as much as you can to replace your losses. It is therefore well worth thinking hard about whether there are any measure that you can take in order to protect yourself from theft better and what you can do to make the process of replacing stolen things more easily. This could save you a lot of time and effort if anything ever does get stolen but should also reduce the chances of you ever having anything taken in the first place.
Info provided by: Northgate Vehicle Hire Van Hire Specialist