Van security tips: how to keep your van and its contents safe
Our top expert tips on how to improve your van’s security and stay one step ahead of the criminals
A van contains a lot of value. There's the list price that you paid for it or course, but also if you're a small business, it can be your lifeblood in terms of getting to the clients and customers who need your skills - that's what keeps the money coming in. Then there's the value of the tools you might use, as well as any materials. As a result of all this, van security should be a top priority for anybody with a commercial vehicle as part of their business.
What you're doing is protecting your investment, because if anything should be damaged on your van or its contents are stolen, then not only will you need to sort out an insurance claim, you'll also want to get back on the road an back to work as soon as possible. The old adage that prevention is better than cure applies here, because if you get your van security right in the first place, then your vehicle and its contents won't be at risk. Go for the right security measures, and you could even reduce your insurance costs, too.
Below we've listed a number of top tips to help you keep your van secure, from manufacturer-fitted security to sensible measures of your own that you can take to make your van less attractive to thieves.
Top 10 tips for improving your van security
1. Prioritise security when choosing your van
If you're choosing a new van for your business, there's a lot to consider, but don’t be dazzled by the glossy brochures and tricksy options and let security slip down your priority list. Most modern vans offer a good range of security features, but pay attention and check the van you're looking at has the right kit as standard. If you need to add extras, consider specifying an alarm, immobiliser and deadlocks for all the doors from the options list.
Even the basic configuration of your new van can have an impact on its security. Think about whether or not you want glazed rear doors - they’re useful for visibility, but they can be a security risk, as they let everyone see what’s stored in the vehicle. Some vans come with a single rear door as standard, so ask yourself if you really need to load and unload from both sides of your van before ticking the option of the second side door. Opting for a solid bulkhead or mesh grille between the cab and load area is another way of protecting your van’s cargo, as the former keeps everything out of sight.
2. Modify the van to your needs
There are a few things that you can add to a van to boost its security beyond the basic spec. Plenty of firm's offer a number of physical security add-ons for commercial vehicles that will suit different needs. Lockable toolboxes for valuable equipment and upgraded deadlocks or slamlocks for doors are amongst the most popular aftermarket options.
3. Invest in the latest security technology
If you're looking at a new van, the majority will come fitted with an alarm and immobiliser as standard. These systems should be Thatcham Category 2 approved - that means it must have an immobiliser included as part of the alarm system - but you should always check that this is the case. From that basic level of protection, there’s the option of upgrading to more advanced electronic alarm systems or even a vehicle tracking device.
Electronic GPS trackers can vastly improve the chances of recovering your vehicle if it is stolen and have the potential to lower your insurance premiums when fitted to your van. The most advanced tracking systems use multiple systems to locate a missing vehicle, and these firms can alert the police about stolen vehicles, too.
4. Cheaply upgrade the security on your van
You don’t have to secure your van like Fort Knox if it's going to cost as much as a bar of gold to achieve it. Indeed, there are plenty of simple and affordable measures that you can take to help boost your van's security.
There are heavy-duty steering wheel locks and hand brake locks, you can apply a plastic window tint (this can help security as a smashed window will remain in place, rather than break up), lockable fuel filler caps and locking wheel nuts are all relatively cheap ways to deter opportunistic thieves. It might seem like a cheap option, but adding stickers warning that tools aren’t left in the vehicle overnight are worth considering.
5. Don’t forget the cat
It's vital to protect the contents of your van, but try not to forget that there are other parts of your van that are valuable to thieves. Catalytic converters are attractive to thieves because of the precious metals that are contained within them, and this kind of theft is on the rise as a result.
Vans and high-riding pick-up trucks are particularly vulnerable to attack, because their added ground clearance means the catalytic converter is easier to get to. Thankfully, there are firms that offer anti-theft devices for catalysers, and it’s well worth having one installed on your van.
6. Use your van locks
All of this security is only any good if you actually use it. It might sound obvious but lock your van when you're leaving it, even if you're just walking from the garage forecourt to the shop to pay for your fuel - opportunist thieves don't need to be asked twice if they want to get into an unlocked van. You need to check that all the windows are shut and doors are locked every time you leave your van, and if you're leaving it for a longer period, then use all of the extra security measures you've invested in.
7. Don’t leave valuables inside your van
The obvious way to prevent valuables from being nicked from your van is to not leave them there in the first place. If you can take all of your tools out of the van when you're leaving it, then all the better. And don't forget your other devices, such as portable sat-nav, smartphone or tablet computer that you might keep in the cab. It might be tempting to keep these in a lockable glove compartment, but these aren't necessarily as secure as you might expect.
8. Think about where you park
Thieves do't like to be disturbed, so the best place to park your van is in a busy, well lit area where they can't do their worst. Areas covered by CCTV are also worth parking in - cameras may not cover your vehicle, but they can monitor the comings and goings of people in the area. If you park your van at home or at work, you can improve security by adding motion-detecting security lights, lockable gates or rising bollards, while the latest CCTV cameras can be connected to your local wi-fi network to stream images directly to your computer - they can even be set to activate when they detect movement.
9. Keep a record of what’s in your van
It's useful to keep an inventory of what you actually carry in your van, should the worst happen. And if you have expensive items in your van, then it would be worthwhile retaining the receipts in case you need to make an insurance claim and need to prove the item was included. It’s also worth marking valuable equipment using a watermark-style system that registers valuables on a central database.
10. Make your staff aware of van security
If you're a fleet manager, then the security of your fleet is only as strong as the weakest link, so ensure all staff stick to the same routines when it comes to van security. If you don’t emphasise the importance of van security, then all the devices in the world will be no use whatsoever. If other people will be using your van, make sure they take the same precautions that you would, and of course, make sure they are actually insured to drive your van in the first place.
Find out how to get the best van insurance deal here