Author: PETER McSEAN
Van theft is a big deal for a small business. When a large corporation loses a van through theft, it’s inconvenient. But the loss of a van to a smaller business can affect the whole operation. As can the theft of vital tools, cargo or valuables. Whether it’s the contents or the van itself, the cost to your business will be far more than the cost of whatever the thieves have stolen.
It’s important for a small business to choose a van that deters thieves. How do you do that?
Start by checking out what Thatcham says. Thatcham is an independent research centre used by the insurance and motor repair industries.
Thatcham tests how easy or difficult it is to break into vehicles – including LCVs – and drive them away. It gives a star rating in two categories: theft from, and theft of. Five stars is the top mark. Thatcham calls it the New Vehicle Security Ratings.
These star ratings are a useful measure of a van’s potential to withstand an attack from a thief.
That’s a starting point, but there’s much that you can do to improve your van’s anti-theft performance.
If you carry valuable items, you can upgrade the locks – for instance, with high-security armoured barrels; or electronic locks on the inside of loading doors; or deadlocks, which can be operated only by a key. There are also systems that will lock all doors roughly 10 seconds after you’ve left the van.
Some vans have a programmable keyfob – often available as an option – that lets you control which doors lock and in which order. This is very useful, because you can ensure the cab’s locked while you’re ferreting in the load hold for a parcel or a tool – or vice versa.
If your van has windows on its rear doors, you can protect them with punch-steel grilles. Alternatively, fitting laminate – clear or tinted – will hold the glass together if thieves try to smash their way in.
Click here to check the anti-theft performance of most LCVs sold in the UK. It’s quick, free and trustworthy.
A locking fuel cap is a sensible buy if your van doesn’t already have one. Locking wheel nuts are another. Ensure you use a good-quality padlock and chain – at the very least – for any roof-mounted kit, like ladders. Tubes with locking ends are ideal for valuable items, such as copper pipes.
As well as what’s on top, thieves like what’s underneath: the catalytic converter. It’s worth good money because of the expensive metals inside it, such as platinum, palladium and rhodium. Vans are especially vulnerable because they’re easier for thieves to climb under. Engraving the cat with the van’s numberplate is a deterrent. Fitting a special catalyst lock is a more robust measure.
Overall, a good-quality aftermarket alarm can reduce your insurance costs as well as offer reassurance. Thatcham will give you the best steer on that, as well as immobilisers, wheel locking devices and tracking systems.
Finally, do the simple things that’ll make crooks look elsewhere. Always lock all the doors and close all the windows when the van’s unattended. Never leave anything valuable, including documents with sensitive info, on show in your business van. Don’t park in the dark, quiet places in which thieves love to operate. And keep the keys safe. In short, don’t let a thief’s business spoil your business.