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How To Stay Safe & Avoid Tool Theft From Your Van

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 5th September 2014

One of the main issues that affect electricians is the security of tools.  From light fingered workers to van thieves, there is always some factor that can affect the safety of tools.  Tools are an essential to the work of an electrician and whilst insurance cover does help, there is still the time and inconvenience of having to replace tools that have taken years to build up, not to mention the revenue lost from being unable to work.

Tool Theft

Tool theft from vans is on the increase again in part due to the upturn of the economy.  Specialist insurer ECIC has seen claims for tool theft rise year on year with an average cost per claim now in excess of £5,000.  Tool theft has always been common, with many thieves being 'opportunist' and calculating their move on you before you are even aware.

Unfortunately tool theft seems to have moved with the times and despite advances in technology on vans, thieves have also developed technology to enable overriding of features such as electronic keys.

Covering the basics

All seasoned sparkies will know to not leave their tools in the van overnight or if this is unavoidable parking with the doors against a wall in a well lit area is the best security you can hope for to protect your tools. We had a an experienced electrician doing some update training with us a few months back who was unfortunately the victim of tool theft on a grand scale.  After emptying his van of his tools into his home, he was then burgled that night with thieves accessing the property undetected and making off with all his tools.  Damage to the van was also caused.  Lost revenue to his business went into the thousands by the time the damage was repaired, tools replaced, working time lost not to mention the associated stress.

Hearing this story inspired us to write this article as it made us think more about vehicle security.

How to secure your van

Securing your van is the first step to keeping your tools safe.  Don't rely on the locks supplied as standard on your van.  Some vans have locks fitted that thieves can open within 60 seconds using a cheap lock pick brought on line.  Insurer ECIC recommend replacing all your van locks with Thatcham Research endorsed locks.  These locks have undergone extensive testing and will therefore buy additional time and make the thief think twice about touching your van.

Once your locks are up to the job, additional locks should be considered.  Popular options amongst electricians include Slamlocks where the door automatically locks once closed, Slamplates which add additional protection over locks and deadlocks which add extra locking points are all worthy considerations.  Although it is another expense and often a bind in some cases to get this work done, it will offer security that works.

Put it this way, a thief will go to the van they can target easily as against the one they can't.

Check your van is actually locked

This may seem obvious, but how many of us nowadays simply rely on the electronic transmissions given by the electronic key to lock the van.  Pressing the button as we walk away has become common place.  However as we mentioned earlier in the article, thieves have developed technology to over ride the functions of these transmissions meaning that your van won't actually lock when you press the button.

Known as lock jammers, these unscrupulous thieves block the signal given by your key unknown to you, and your van won't actually lock leaving the thief with full access to your tools without any damage being caused to your van! Sickening isn't it?  There is an easy remedy to this however, and that is to actually check that your van is locked before you leave.  It is the old fashioned try the handle to see if it's locked!

Do you own a Ford Transit?

Investing in your locks is particularly recommended as thieves in recent times have developed a tool that will unlock a Ford Transit without force in around 30 seconds.  The tool which has a number of spindles can be easily manipulated in a lock without the knowledge of anyone around.

With the Ford Transit being the most popular van on the road at the moment, it is not much of a surprise that thieves are targeting Transits specifically.

Prior preparation avoids a poor performance!

It is worth remembering that most thieves are opportunist and are just looking for an easy way to steal.  Making their job as hard as possible minimises your chances of being their next victim.  Always remembering to lock your van every time you leave it, even if you're just popping into the shop can stop a whole load of grief.