Six of the best van security tips

From someone who learned the hard way

Veteran gas engineer Graham Collins has had tools stolen from his van just once in almost half a century, and admits "It was my own fault”.

The football fan was on his own patch a goal kick away from his beloved Villa Park in Birmingham when the opportunists struck.

"I was at a fishing competition and parked 400 yards away but left my kit on view,” he said. "It took them seconds, but the effect it had on my work lasted a lot longer.”



Not rocket science

Now Baxi's Training Support Manager wants installers young and not so young to learn from his mistake to ensure a stress-free day… starting by using their common sense.

"A lot of it boils down to that. Most of us installers are pretty street-wise so take a look at the area and assess whether it looks safe to park. If it doesn't, then park your van in a well-lit area and never leave your tools on view,” he says.

Always a target

At the end of the day, it's a pain to shift everything from the back of the van especially hefty items like a big hammer core drill, but Graham insists installers who follow a simple 1-2-3 checklist of things to remove won't get stung.

"Whether you're installing a new boiler or doing service and repair work, you should assume you will be a target and take those three key bits of kit out of your van each night,” says the trainer, who started as a British Gas apprentice 46 years ago.

"The flue gas analyser, multi meter and daily tools are the mainstay of the job and without them we've had it. It doesn't take much effort to take them indoors really.”

It only takes a second

Most van break-ins are committed by opportunist thieves who are looking to get in and out quickly with a few items that have the greatest maximum sell-on value. Removing them means less hassle for installers down the line.

"If you tot it all up, you're looking at around £3,500 of kit that might take a week or two to replace and that could affect your livelihood. So, if you see glass on the floor or think somewhere looks a little unsafe, then park appropriately.”



VAN SAFETY CHECKLIST

While research shows a large proportion of van thefts or break-ins are opportunistic, check out Graham's six safety first tips to further reduce your chance of becoming a victim.

  1. Stoplock - A device that links the two rear doors, making it hard for a thief to wrench them open. Good for vans with vulnerable lock mechanisms and at around £40 they are a cheap way of adding another layer of protection
  2. Secure storage - There are plenty of good systems out there to deter thieves and give peace of mind, whether it's with a secure tool chest or a lockable roof tube for copper pipes.
  3. Track it - If your van goes, your income could too. A tracking system could make a difference in tracing the thief and getting you back on track quickly.
  4. Film it - Window security film is a reasonably priced option that can send thieves packing if they're looking to smash your window and get away. It works by ensuring the glass sticks together and confusing the crooks.
  5. Dash for it - A dash camera, if mounted cleverly and out of sight, will detect anyone taking an unhealthy interest in your van. But don't advertise the fact you've got one.
  6. Insure well - Most important of all after spending on additional van security, make sure your van and ALL its contents are properly insured. Don't just go for the cheapest cover - sometimes paying a little more is better value when you factor in additional extras. Take a look at www.aphc.co.uk/trade_insurance.asp for more advice.

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