According to figures obtained from 45 police forces by the institution that is the BBC, a van is broken into every 23 minutes here in the UK. Basically, that’s two vans each and every hour. In 2014/15, 14,063 van thefts were recorded, a figure that jumped to 22,749 in 2016/17, signalling a concerning 61% increase.
“This is very much in line with what we are hearing from fleets at the moment. Van crime occurs in cycles and our feeling is that we are very much on an upswing”, comments Simon Cook, LCV manager at Arval, one of the primary funders we work with in the commercial vehicle leasing and contract hire market.
The use of lighter steel by van manufacturers in an effort to reduce weight and increase payload could be partly to blame, Simon reckons, having witnessed cases where “doors and other panels have been opened like a can of beans and the contents of the van taken.”
Criminals are known for striving to catch up with modern technological developments pretty quickly in a bid to break into newer cars and vans, and Arval points to transponder keys remaining a problem, although less so thanks to continual improvements.
Some van thieves even try to hide in plain sight nowadays, arrogantly stealing vans from busy areas in broad daylight while wearing high-visibility jackets.
To help van fleet managers and commercial vehicle drivers in keeping their vehicles and cargos safe in today’s current climate of heightened van theft, Arval has published five key steps.
- Fit security equipment such as slam locks and trackers
- Keep van keys secure and out of sight, as they remain more vulnerable than vehicle locks
- Branding/sign-writing can actually backfire, letting potential thieves know what’s inside
- Park vans in a sensible place, as close as possible to occupied buildings and street or other lighting
- Seek professional security advice, because strengthening a van’s anti-theft credentials can cost up to £1,000
Your contract hire and leasing account manager will be happy to advise on which locks work best with particular van models and, of course, to identify the best special van leasing offers and deals on the market at any one time.