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Thefts from vans guidance

We have partnered up with Builders’ Talk Group (BTG) to share guidance to help protect tradespeople from van theft crime.

Top tips:

  • Leaving items on show is an invitation. Remember to remove power leads, SatNav mounts and even bags. Never leave expensive items in your unattended vehicle.
  • Keys and ignition fobs should be kept safe, out of sight and reach - a common way to steal a car or van is to take the keys or ignition fob, either when left in the vehicle or from your home through burglary.
  • Always lock and close the windows of your vehicle when unattended. An unlocked vehicle is the easiest to steal from. When away from home, consider using a Park Mark approved car park. Visit the Park Mark car park finder on their website (opens in new window).
  • Invest in a driveway alarm when parking at your home address, easy to fit with no DIY skills.
  • Fit theft resistant number plate fittings to prevent number plates being stolen (a growing issue). Use one-way clutch head screws to secure plates.
  • Keep an inventory of all items in your van and the serial numbers of your most expensive ones. Consider marking these items overtly with a permanent solution such as etching or engraving or covertly with chemical marking or tracking kits. Visit the Secured by Design website (opens in new window) for further information.
  • Consider installing a battery operated CCTV system which is linked to your smartphone. If any of the sensors are triggered an alert is issued to your smartphone in under 60 seconds. For further information visit the uWatch website (opens in new window)and search for 'the Cube' which is a Secured by Design accredited product.
  • Use a steering wheel lock - or a lock that fits over the gear lever. Disklok is a great example.
  • Invest in secure storage containers such as those mentioned in our 'further information' section below.
  • Why not install a domestic CCTV system or video doorbell to protect both your home and vehicle?
  • Fit a security box over the pedals to prevent thefts when the vehicle is parked. Once the box is fitted and locked in place it encases all of the pedals, making it nearly impossible to access them. Pedal Box is a great example.
  • If you store ladders on top of your vehicle, invest in a ladder clamp.

Doors and locks

Beat the thieves by installing Thatcham approved locks for vans, such as a slam-locks, deadlocks or rep-locks. Thatcham insurance approved van locks ensure the highest level of quality and can have the benefit of insurance discounts. Protections plates can cover the vulnerable area of locks for vans (around a van lock) and provide a fantastic visual deterrent to potential thieves.

Relay theft/ Keyless car theft

Vehicles fitted with a smart or passive keys are susceptible to relay theft. This key system allows you to gain entry and start your vehicle without the need to interact with your vehicle's key.

Criminals use specialist equipment that have the ability to grab the signal from the car to the smart key so that it appears to the car that they key is present. Your vehicle is most vulnerable overnight, particularly if parked on your driveway or directly outside your home.

You can prevent this by:

  • When not in use - either at home or when out and about - store your key in a security pouch. Security pouches are sometimes termed Faraday bags or signal blockers/shields and there are many security rated versions on the market. These pouches will prevent the signal from your vehicle being captured using electronic devices.
  • Remember to secure both keys in a security pouch.

Key programming

Key programming is being used by criminals to assign a new key to vehicles, by plugging a device into the onboard diagnostic port (OBD) of the vehicle. The OBD port will in most cases be located in the driver's foot well. Criminals will gain entry into your vehicle then plug into this port and programme a blank key to the vehicle.

  • Always make sure that your vehicle is locked and secure when leaving it unattended.
  • Consider having an OBD lock guard professionally fitted - see below and take a look at the TVL website (details listed in the 'further information' section)
  • Electronic OBD security is available - seek the main dealer's advice.

Protect your spare wheels and catalytic converter

This is a growing problem, especially with regards to commercial vehicles.

  • Consider installing a Thatcham approved alarm to your vehicle. Ones that activate if the vehicle is lifted or tilted are particularly effective.
  • Protect the spare wheel from being stolen by fitting a spare wheel guard. The guard is designed to ensure the spare wheel can only be released from inside the vehicle.
  • Consider using a catalytic converter protection device or marking system. For more information on these you can visit the Secured by Design website (opens in new window).

Further information and helpful links

A selection of products from the Secured by Design website (opens in new window) are listed below but there are many more to choose from on the website.

Check your insurance policy for further requirements and make sure you inform them of any change or adaptations to the vehicle.

Acknowledgements

With special thanks to Helen O'Driscoll, Crime Reduction Officer at Partnership and Operational Support Unit for Cambridgeshire Constabulary. 

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