A van is no small investment, and whether you use yours for work, as a camper, or just to ferry around your growing brood, having your van damaged, vandalised or stolen is something you'd certainly want to avoid.
As well as the obvious cost of van theft (suddenly having to find the means to source a new van), you may also have to consider the costs of higher insurance premiums, replacing any tools (or other valuables) that were left inside, funding temporary transport and the potential loss of business that being without a van may cause. We've compiled a list of top tips to help keep your van, and whatever you keep in it, safe and secure.
Securing your van
Alarms are one of the first pieces of kit when we think of security - most vans have these fitted as standard but you should definitely check your van for an active alarm system. If not, you can have one fitted by a professional.
Trackers can be planted inside vans so that, in the event of a theft, it is much easier to locate your vehicle and recover it; this can help limit the potential damage a thief can do. Some tracking systems can remotely lock down your van as soon as you're aware of the theft, to protect the van's contents.
Additional locks, on top of the van's existing locking system, provide an extra layer of protection.
Slamlocks are, as the name suggests, locks that work as soon as the door is slammed and are ideal for people who make frequent stops while using their van, such as couriers. There is a risk of accidentally locking your keys in the van with this kind of lock.
Deadlocks are fitted into a van's bodywork in two parts: a bolt in the door and a receiving bracket in the vehicle's outer wall, in a location that provides the most security for that particular van.
Steering wheel locks serve two purposes: 1) they immobilise the steering wheel, making any real turn of the tyres impossible, and 2) they are designed to be highly visible to a would-be thief and lets them know they won't get very far even if they did get inside the vehicle. A steering wheel lock prevents criminals from stealing your van but doesn't stop them from breaking in and taking any valuables.
Securing specific items
Thieves like to target catalytic converters because they contain precious metals including copper, nickel, cerium, iron and manganese, as well as rhodium, platinum and palladium which are particularly valuable for their use in jewellery, electronics and industry. Due to vans having a greater ground clearance than cars, thieves tend to go for catalytic converters on vans. Two protection options here are specific catalytic converter locks or asking your garage to weld yours shut.
Spare wheels are also a victim of van thieves, typically stolen for resale. There are fairly inexpensive anti-theft spare wheel locking bolt kits and other anti-theft devices available that will help protect your spare wheels.
Take your tools and valuables out of the vehicle when not in use, and using a "No tools left in this van overnight" sign can also help deter criminals.
If it's impractical to empty your van of tools every time, consider secure storage boxes that bolt to the floor. Tool insurance is also an option and can provide additional peace of mind.
Additional security tactics
You can strengthen the windows on your van to help prevent thieves from smashing their way into your vehicle, and you can do this in two ways: 1) replacing the standard glass panels with double-pane glass, and 2) using window security film. They both work to make the glass harder to break - double-pane glass has a thick plastic sheet between two glass panels, while window security film adheres to the glass surface, causing any broken glass to stay in place and requiring more effort and time on the part of the criminal before they can gain access.
Parking in secure locations such as locked garages. Failing that, park in busy, well-lit areas with noticeable CCTV - thieves have fewer opportunities there.
If you use your van for business, having your company name and contact details on the side act as a deterrent. A van with "H. Smith and Sons Window Cleaning" followed by a phone number will stand out and make a getaway for a would-be thief more difficult.
While all the above tips and gadgets aim to make your van more secure and therefore less of a theft risk, which results in lower van insurance costs, some insurance companies may consider some of the security features as modifications, which could increase your insurance costs. It is best to check with your insurer before you make any big changes.
Now you know how to secure a van, you can start the fun stuff - finding a van you love! Carbase has a huge selection of used vans for a range of purposes so you can take your pick, safe in the knowledge you'll be able to keep your van safe from criminals. If you have any questions about vans or van safety, get in touch today.