A Comprehensive Guide to Van Security: Top Strategies for Safety and Peace of Mind

A van, whether utilised for commercial or personal use, is not just a vehicle; it's a valuable asset often carrying expensive tools, equipment or goods. The increase in van theft and burglaries over the past few years has posed a significant concern for van owners. To counter these threats, enhancing van security measures is crucial. In this guide, we'll walk you through various strategies to bolster your van security, from investing in modern technology to adopting smart parking practices.

1. Embrace the Power of Modern Security Technology

Modern security technology has made it feasible to safeguard your van in more sophisticated ways than ever before. Investing in these technologies might seem like an upfront cost, but they can save you from potential losses in the future.

1.1 Immobilisers

An immobiliser is an electronic device that deactivates the engine unless the ignition key is present. It's a powerful deterrent for thieves who often resort to hot-wiring to steal a vehicle. Most vans manufactured after 1998 come with factory-fitted immobilisers. If your van is an older model, consider getting an immobiliser installed from a professional. Opt for Thatcham-approved immobilisers for the best standards in vehicle security.

1.2 Vehicle Trackers

GPS-based tracking systems don't necessarily prevent theft, but they significantly increase the chances of recovering your stolen van swiftly. Trackers often come with remote locking systems, allowing you to secure the van as soon as you become aware of the theft. Some trackers even offer smartphone apps that provide real-time location updates. Brands like Tracker offer a range of GPS tracking solutions to suit different needs and budgets.

2. Upgrade Your Van Locks

The standard locks that come with most vans can be easily picked by skilled thieves. Upgrading your van locks can dramatically enhance your vehicle's security.

2.1 Slamlocks

A slamlock system automatically locks the van door as soon as it's closed. It eliminates the risk of forgetting to lock your van, making it an excellent security measure for those who make frequent stops, such as couriers.

2.2 Deadlocks

Unlike slamlocks, deadlocks are manually operated. They secure the door with a single bolt and are challenging to pick, making them a formidable barrier against theft.

In addition to upgrading the locks, consider adding steel plates around the locks to prevent drilling attacks. Remember, quality should be the top priority when choosing locks; Thatcham-approved locks are highly recommended for their proven reliability.

3. Secure Your Catalytic Converter

Catalytic converters, part of the exhaust system, are often targeted by thieves due to the valuable metals they contain. To protect this component, consider investing in a catalytic converter lock. Although these locks might seem expensive initially, they are certainly cheaper than the cost of replacing a stolen catalytic converter.

4. Install Reliable Alarm Systems

A quality alarm system can act as a potent deterrent for van burglars. Most modern vans come with factory-fitted alarms. If your van doesn't have one, get a professional to install a Thatcham-approved alarm system.

4.1 Category 1 Alarms

Category 1 alarms are combined alarm/immobilisers, usually suitable for vans manufactured before 2006.

4.2 Category 2/1 Alarms

Category 2/1 alarms are upgrades to your existing van security, typically intended for vans made after 2006.

Remember, an alarm system merely notifies you of a break-in—it's the immobiliser that prevents the van from starting.

5. Signage Can Enhance Security Too

Signage on your van serves a dual purpose—it advertises your business and enhances the vehicle's security. A sign-written van is easily identifiable, making it less appealing to thieves looking to make a clean getaway.

6. Ensure the Safety of Your Tools

If your van is used for business, it's likely carrying expensive tools and equipment. Consider the following measures to protect these valuables:

6.1 Secure Storage Box

Invest in a secure storage box or a van lock box that bolts to the floor, adding an extra layer of security for your tools.

6.2 Tool Insurance

Tool insurance can provide peace of mind and financial protection in case your tools get stolen.

Remember, the most secure way to protect something from being stolen from your van is not to leave it inside the van, especially overnight, if possible.

7. Mind Your Parking Habits

Where you park your van can significantly impact its vulnerability to theft. Thieves typically avoid well-lit areas with heavy public presence. Always aim to park your van in open, brightly lit areas with CCTV coverage. If you have the option of a secure car park, use it.

8. Invest in Physical Security Devices

Physical security devices like steering wheel locks, pedal locks, and gearlever locks can provide an extra layer of protection for your van. These devices might seem old-fashioned, but they are still effective deterrents against theft.

9. Insurance: Your Safety Net

All forms of insurance protect against theft of the van itself, but it's crucial to ensure that your policy also covers the contents of the van. If your livelihood depends on your tools, ensure you have van tool theft cover. If you're a courier or delivery driver, you need courier insurance, which covers you for 'hire and reward' driving and 'goods in transit'—the items you're transporting.

10. Maintain a Detailed Record of Your Van's Contents

Keeping a detailed record of the equipment or cargo in your van can enhance security. It helps identify missing contents and deters opportunists who know the vehicles and their contents well. Marking high-value items with a unique code in invisible UV pen can be beneficial in identifying your property if stolen tools are recovered.

By implementing these strategies, you can significantly enhance your van's security, reduce the risk of theft, and achieve peace of mind. Always remember that the most crucial aspect of van security is vigilance—keeping a watchful eye on your van and using the security features you've installed.