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How Do Criminals Break Into Work Vans?

By Darragh Timlin on May 25th, 2022

Nothing can be more frustrating than finding that someone has broken into your work van overnight. Whether it is an opportunistic thief breaking into your van to see what they can steal to keep for themself, or your van has been targeted by a criminal gang looking for valuable tools and equipment to steal and sell on.

One of the main issues that work van owners have is that often their vehicle isn’t very well protected. For example, the standard door locks fitted to commercial vans are pretty easy to force open.

If you have no other choice but to leave your work tools in your van overnight, or you need to park on a street with no CCTV, it can be an easy target for criminals. By investing in goods in transit insurance, you can ensure that your valuable tools and equipment are protected against theft and damage while in transit, providing you with greater peace of mind as you go about your work.

  1. What are the most common methods used to break into vans?
  2. How can I prevent my work van from being broken into?
  3. Install additional security
  4. The importance of business van insurance

What are the most common methods used to break into vans?

Even if you are careful about where you park your work van or the way you secure your tools and equipment within your van, some criminals will simply break in for a quick smash and grab to see what they can make off with.

Even if they run away empty-handed, they can leave a lot of damage in their wake. Your work van can be put out of action while you have smashed side windows replaced or door locks repaired.

Here is a list of the most common ways criminals break into work vans:

  1. Forcing the door lock open
    Unfortunately, standard commercial van door locks are not very hard to overcome. In less than one minute, most van door locks can be opened using a simple set of pliers.
  2. Hacking the key code
    Modern commercial vans use electronic coded key fobs to lock and unlock the doors remotely. When remote door locks first came out, they used cutting-edge technology that thieves found hard to master. However, criminals can now intercept the key code using an inexpensive radio receiver. Using a transmitter, they can unlock your van or block your key fob signal so that your van remains unlocked.
  3. Keyless relay system
    Many commercial vans are fitted with a keyless ignition system. The van will unlock automatically as you approach, and you turn on the ignition with a button press. Criminals are now using what is known as ‘relay attacks’ where they intercept the signal from your smart key, amplify it and send it to their partner in crime, carrying a transmitter situated close by your van.
  4. Van Door Peeling
    Commonly known as ‘Peel and Steal’, this is a big problem for van owners in the UK right now. It involves breaking into a van by folding back the top of a door panel using brute force without triggering the van alarm.

How can I prevent my work van from being broken into?

With criminals becoming far more tech-savvy these days, it can help to make sure your van is locked correctly before you leave it by double-checking the doors.

Should a thief holding a radio transmitter be nearby, you can quickly check that your van doors are locked. In most cases, criminals targeting vans with electronic code interceptors don’t tend to carry physical tools to break in with, such as pliers or crowbars, as this activity can draw too much attention.

It can help if you keep your keyless entry fob in a faraday pouch. This will prevent the key fob from being hacked using remote devices.

Install additional security

Brand new commercial vans come with a factory-installed alarm system. However, these alarms are not enough of a deterrent to prevent a determined thief from breaking into your van.

It makes sense to install extra security into your van, especially if you carry around a lot of expensive tools and equipment that need protecting. It can be very frustrating and costly to replace the essential tools and equipment that allow you to do your job.

Putting extra security measures in place can also help to lower your van insurance premiums in some cases. This can make the additional expense of improving your van security worth the effort.

Extra van security can include installing better security locks such as:

  • Slam locks
    These are door locks that automatically lock when you slam the door closed. They integrate with your existing door locks and are ideal for anyone who needs to be in and out of their van a lot during the day, for example, delivery drivers and couriers.
  • Security plates
    Security plates fit around the locks on your van doors. They are strong metal plates that make it more difficult for thieves to force open or pick your locks.
  • Deadlock
    Deadlocks work in addition to your standard locks and work in the same way as when you deadbolt the front door of your house. Deadlocks need to be physically activated, so you must remember to lock them before leaving your van alone.
  • Steering wheel lock
    A steering wheel lock provides an extra layer of physical protection to help prevent a criminal from driving away with your van, but it can also act as an effective visual deterrent.

The importance of business van insurance

There will always be many variables that will be out of your control. No matter how well you try to protect your work van from being stolen or broken into, the risk is still there that a very determined thief will go out of their way to steal your van or steal valuable goods from it.

Commercial van insurance is an excellent way to cover your work van, and you can look for cover that will also protect the tools and equipment you need to keep in your van. It is a cost-effective way to ensure your business doesn’t suffer due to criminal damage, theft or an accident.

Business van insurance is designed to cover the vehicle you use for your work and will help to protect your business by minimising your loss should your work van be stolen or damaged.

The cost of your work van insurance will depend on a few factors, including:

  • How many additional drivers you want to include
  • The type of business you operate
  • The van mileage and journey estimates
  • What security features and extra protection it has
  • Where you keep your van overnight
  • Your previous claims history
  • Your van type, size, make and model

Your work van insurance cover will take all of the above into account, so it can help to have all these details to hand when you get your quote online.

It is also worth mentioning that you can arrange temporary business van insurance should you need to hire a van to help with a large job, or you need a replacement van while your current van is out of action.

We hope that our guide helps you secure your work van with the best level of protection you can source. Never underestimate the value of having the right commercial van insurance in place to give you great peace of mind. We understand that each business is unique. That’s why we offer customised business insurance solutions tailored to your specific requirements.

Darragh Timlin

With over 25 years’ experience, Darragh is an expert in all things insurance. Starting his career in commercial property underwriting, Darragh has worked for a number of global insurers and is now Managing Director of Brisco Business, part of the wider Henry Seymour Group.

All articles by Darragh Timlin

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