Trade vehicle crime

Trade vehicle crime

Trade vehicles can be very tempting targets for opportunistic thieves due to the quantity and high value of the tools and equipment often stored inside.

With the growing use of expensive and portable devices it is more important than ever to reduce the chances of becoming a victim of crime by removing valuable items from view.

Some of the most popular items stolen by thieves are those which are easy to access and portable such as:

  • Sat navs
  • Wallets
  • Tools and equipment
  • Mobile phones
  • Cash
  • Documents
  • Laptops

To avoid having your valuables stolen from your trade vehicle there are a few simple things that you can do before leaving it parked, whether at home or elsewhere.

Some of it may seem obvious but it is easy to forget and even the simplest precautions can make the difference.

Protecting your vehicle and belongings

Identifiable markings

Should the worst happen and your van is broken into, you have a much better chance of being reunited with your property if they have an easily identifiable mark on them such as your postcode or some other unique identification number. There are a variety of suitable methods such as special marker pens or etching.

Register your valuables

Keep a note of any valuable items and their identifying markers by registering them with Immobilise is a police approved website and database which helps identify the owner of possessions which have been recovered; it may also help to convict the offender.

Vehicle security products

Making your trade vehicle and possessions more difficult and time consuming for a potential thief to access can help to protect them. Make sure any security products are approved by Secured by Design (

  • Mechanical immobilisers such as steering wheel locks are useful even if you already have an electronic immobiliser. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to fit.
  • Locking wheel nuts make it more difficult for your vehicle’s wheels to be removed.
  • An alarm (such as one which activates if your vehicle is lifted or tilted) will alert people to your trade vehicle being broken into, but it must be installed properly

Leaving your van unattended (even if it’s for just a few moments)

(Both public and private areas)

Once you are parked remove all items from display. Even old coats and plastic bags can draw a potential thief’s attention. Ideally, take the items with you but if you’re not able to put them out of sight by locking them in the back of your van or putting them in the glove compartment.

Don’t forget to also remove anything that suggests you may have something of value in the vehicle such as the sat nav cradle or the tell–tale ring often left on your windscreen by a sat nav.

Even if you get out of your vehicle for a few moments, such as to pay for fuel at the petrol station or quickly talking to a friend – don’t leave it unlocked and unattended. Get into the habit of always closing the windows and sunroof, and locking the van.

A thief only needs a few seconds to jump into your vehicle and drive away.


At home or work

If you have a garage – use it, and don’t forget to lock the garage door.

If you don’t have a garage make sure your work vehicle is parked in a well–lit area, ideally on your driveway or secure work premises, even if it is a quiet area.

Secure storage at home or work

If possible remove the most valuable tools and equipment from your vehicle and lock them in a secure garage or building to avoid them being used to break into your home or work place.

Equipment such as spades, power tools and ladders should be either:

  • secured to each other and a heavy bench, frame or anchor post fitted to the floor using a high tensile steel rope
  • locked in a strong lockable box or cage within the building

You can protect your garage or storage buildings by:

  • securing all doors with at least one heavy–duty hasp and closed–shackle padlock which conforms to British Standard EN12320. (Only suitable if the frame is strong enough to support the lock)
  • using strong hinges on the door, secured with coach bolts or clutch–head screws, as ordinary fixings can be easily unscrewed
  • either fixing good window locks or screwing them permanently shut from the inside if you never open them
  • obscuring the view of inside through windows, therefore stopping burglars from seeing any expensive equipment inside
  • installing an alarm system which is either an extension from your home/work system or a stand–alone device

Some criminals may look through your home (particularly the kitchen) or work windows, to see if they can see any vehicle keys. They may put things like fishing rods or clothes props with a coat hanger on the end through the letterbox to hook the keys and steal the vehicle.

So once you’re home or if you’re leaving your keys at work, don’t leave them anywhere within easy view and reach of the windows. Ideally, keep them in an obvious but hidden place such as in a drawer or cupboard away from windows and doors. But remember, if you do have your van keys attached to your house keys they need to be within easy reach in case you need to escape from the property in an emergency.

In a public area

Thieves like to target trade vehicles where there is minimal risk of being seen, so when parking away from home or work try to use areas which:

  • are busier and have more people walking around
  • are well–lit, open and with minimal concealed areas
  • display the ’Park Mark Safer Parking sign’ as these are police approved parking facilities which are designed and managed to minimise the risk of vehicle thieves operating.

To find a car park in your area visit

Additional advice on keeping your home secure is available at Beat The Burglar

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