Northern Ireland named one of the top hotspots for tool theft in the UK
Northern Ireland is one of the most common areas for tool theft in the UK, with an estimated annual cost of thefts equating to over £1.5 million.
Van drivers have been warned to take extra security measures after research showed cases of tool theft from vehicles increased by 57% last year.
Research by van insurance comparison experts at CompareNI.com, analysing a sample of 100,000 van insurance policies, showed only 10% of vans in the UK are locked in a garage overnight – raising concerns over van safety and the need for some additional measures to improve van security and deter thieves.
The most common motive behind van thefts is stealing expensive tools which attract thieves because of their high resale value.
According to Metropolitan Police data, there were 13,677 cases of tool theft from vehicles reported in the last year, March 2021 – March 2022, equating to 37 cases each day.
The most dangerous area for tool thefts is Northumbria, followed by Kent, Lancashire, Hertfordshire, and Northern Ireland.
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Ian Wilson, Managing Director of CompareNI.com said: “With Northern Ireland named in the top five areas in the UK for van theft, you can never be too careful when it comes to securing your van and its contents especially when it has the potential to affect your livelihood.
“Even if your vehicle comes with basic security systems and factory-fitted immobilisers and alarms, they may not cut it as modern thieves have been known to evade them with key fob cloning and blocking.
“That’s why it’s important to take some precautionary steps to keep the thieves away, even simple things like not leaving valuables in plain sight or in the van overnight, parking in a well-lit location and not drawing attention to the fact there may be tools inside the vehicle with external branding and logos. Adding decals and signage to a van can increase your insurance premium for that very reason.
“To help prepare for the worst and make sure you can keep your business running in case of a theft, it’s important to double check that your tools are covered by your van insurance policy, they are not always included as standard.”
Here are CompareNI.com’s top eight tips to improve van security:
1. Plan your parking
With only 10% of van drivers using a locked garage to store their van overnight, it’s important to pay attention to where and how you park, as this can have a huge impact on how vulnerable your van is to theft and the price you pay for your van insurance. A good rule of thumb if you don’t have a garage or a private driveway, is to park close to a wall, so the doors are inaccessible, make sure it’s a busy, well-lit area that’s covered by CCTV.
2. Invest in a high quality alarm
CompareNI.com research found 84% of van drivers rely on the standard manufacturer installed alarm and immobiliser. It’s always good to add extra protection. Savvy thieves can bypass the basic alarm systems and immobilisers, so it’s worth upgrading to the highest quality you can.
3. Use a GPS tracking device
Only 1% of van drivers analysed used a tracker. A GPS tracker will make it easier to get the van back again in case it gets stolen. By installing a tracking device you can easily monitor the location of the van at all times and help the police recover the vehicle faster.
4. Use physical theft-prevention devices
Locks for your steering wheel, handbrake, gear stick and pedals are effective and affordable deterrents against theft. These visible blockers can stop thieves in their tracks and may even deter them from attempting to break in at all, most thieves are opportunists so if your van looks like a challenge, it may just help keep it safe.
5. Upgrade your locks
It’s useful to upgrade the standard factory-fitted locks, as many of them can be easily picked open. Deadlocks double the security of your van and are difficult to crack as they don’t have a spring mechanism. Slam locks are also a great safety measure as they automatically lock the van when you shut the doors.
6. Use a lockable toolbox or vault
If you’re keeping expensive tools or equipment in your van then it’s worth investing in a built in lockable toolbox or vault which offers a secure storage option for your valuables – it could deter or delay the theft long enough to put off the thieves.
7. Remove valuables
The easiest option to prevent tools and equipment from being stolen from the van is to not leave them there to begin with. Although it may be a chore to remove valuables every time you leave the van, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Also marking your tools, keeping an itemised list of what you own and holding on to the receipts of the more expensive items can help in the claims process.
8. Make sure your insurance covers the contents of the van
Being a victim of van theft is devastating, especially if it means that you won’t be able to continue running your business. Getting insurance obviously won’t prevent the vehicle or valuables from being stolen, but it will help you get back on your feet after a theft, as it could protect you financially and help with replacements.
This article is intended as generic information only and is not intended to apply to anybody’s specific circumstances, demands or needs. The views expressed are not intended to provide any financial service or to give any recommendation or advice. Products and services are only mentioned for illustrative rather than promotional purposes.