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Van Theft

Dear resident,

Recently there has been a number of incidents where vans have been targeted for their contents, mainly power tools and hand tools.

The theft of these contents can be extremely costly to businesses, especially those who are self-employed.

A van is broken into every 23 minutes in Britain and, as well as the cost of cargo and tools stolen there is the added expense of having a van off the road for repairs, some of which can be very costly. And whether you’re a fleet manager in charge of 100 vans or a one-man operator relying on your van to run your business, a break-in or total theft is a heart-breaking, disruptive and expensive incident.

While it may sound obvious, basics like leaving van windows open could be the difference between keeping your tools safe or losing them.

Make sure you understand what your insurance policy covers you against. For example, most plans don’t pay out for theft if your doors weren’t locked – so, if you know this applies to you, make an extra effort to check your van’s locked whenever you leave it unattended.

If any upgrades to security/modifications are made to your vehicle it is worth mentioning to your insurance company as you may qualify for a discount on your premium.

Follow these simple tips to minimise the risk:

·  Lock the doors whenever the vehicle is left unattended, even for just a minute.

·  Drive with the doors locked in order to deter thieves who may try to enter the vehicle when it is stationary.         

·  When parking overnight try to use approved locations if possible. Avoid dark, isolated places. If you can, park in a way that prevents      access to the rear doors and or side door.

·  Don’t talk to others about what you’re doing, where you’re going or what you’re carrying.

·  Always lock the doors, even for a few minutes.

.  A van’s signwriting shows what you might be carrying. Consider an unmarked vehicle.

.  Just as with cars, don’t leave phone, satnav or equipment on show in the cab, even loose change can be too tempting for some

·  When returning to an unattended vehicle, always check for signs of tampering with doors, seals, straps or sheets.

·  Keep your keys in a safe place. Don’t have anything on the key ring, which makes it obvious which vehicle the keys are for.

·  When tools and equipment are not being used, ensure they are kept securely in a lockable store rather than in your vehicle. Like            home burglars, van thieves will likely have scoped out your vehicle for valuables before attempting to break in.

·  Keep a list of tools, together with serial numbers and any identifying marks. You can do this at www.immobilise.com. This will help to    trace them back to you if they are stolen and recovered.

·  If you are going to use the tools to the point they are warn and of no use and will not sell them on, consider engraving them that          identifies you as the owner.

·  Take photos of your tools, do this on a regular basis, especially if they are going to get dirty or coated with any products you are          using.

.  Van safes and storage boxes also add an extra layer of protection to your valuables.

.  SmartWater is recommended as not only a deterrent but also as a way of tracing thieves who’ve made off with your belongings.

.  Use stickers to tell crooks that ‘No valuables are left in the vehicle overnight’ or ‘GPS tracking fitted’

·  To prevent fuel theft, refuel just before a planned journey rather than leaving a vehicle fully fuelled overnight. Consider using locking    fuel caps.

.  An immobiliser will reduce the risk of the van actually being driven away or get a steering wheel lock. By simply clicking the device        onto your van’s steering wheel overnight, you could stop vehicle thieves driving away with your vehicle.

.  If it does get stolen, a tracking device could help the police to find it.      


Main types of attack


There are several ways in which a crook will try to gain entry into your van.  This can be by compromising the locks, smashing a window, using electrical cloning equipment to block the remote control from locking the van or downloading the keys signal to the van.

The most common method used are:


Peel and Steal: The ‘peel and steal’ method is at an all-time high. Criminals use their knees to apply pressure to the van’s side load area or rear barn doors before pulling open from the top using their bodyweight. This not only reveals the van’s contents but causes considerable damage.


Anti-peel kit: Designed to reduce door peeling, this solution is fitted to the front edge of the vehicle’s side load door.

Statement Lock: The lock mounts externally to the doors of the vehicle and braces them together for a high security result.


Exposing the locking system: From cutting the van’s expensive central wiring loom to puncturing the outer bodywork of the van, most of these attack methods are extremely quick and very inconspicuous at the time.


Shielding: Providing internal and external protection they reduce the risk of an attack. External plates also act as a deterrent, helping to reduce the cost of costly door repairs. Hook Lock: A deadlocking hook bolt engages into its opposing body section and is operated by its high-security external key.


Opportunist van crime: Even leaving the load area unlocked for a couple of seconds can give an opportunist thief enough time to make off with precious cargo.  If you are regularly in and out of your van, there is a chance you might forget to lock the door.


Slam lock: It safeguards against the driver forgetting to lock the doors, so once the door is shut it locks automatically and can only be opened using the correct lock key. This dramatically reduces the opportunity for theft.

Slam handle: Similar effect to a slam lock, it is designed for couriers, multi-drop delivery drivers and for any job where a driver could be regularly in and out of a load area throughout the day.


We are also encouraging the community to call us on 101 if they see anyone acting suspiciously around a vehicle.

If you have information about this or any other suspected crime, please let us know using the online ‘Tell Us About’ form on our website www.westmercia.police.uk

If you aren’t comfortable contacting us directly, you can pass on information anonymously to the independent charity, Crimestoppers, by calling 0800 555 111 or by visiting their website: www.crimestoppers-uk.org

If you ever feel at risk, or a crime is in progress, please always dial 999. 

Thank you for your help. It is only by the police and the public working together that we can prevent and detect crime.


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