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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.