Vans are a magnet for professional thieves, every insurer and broker knows that. Tools left inside – no matter what the sticker says – heavy equipment, clothing, plus documents left in the glove box that are useful for ID fraudsters. Then there’s the van itself of course, with modern, low mileage examples being very attractive to thieves and chop-shops.
So it is surprising that four-in-10 of all new vans on sale do not come with an alarm as standard, according to an exclusive investigation by What Car? Vans. The findings follow research highlighting how more than 43,000 vans have been stolen since 2016, with a further 117,000 broken into, costing drivers and businesses more than £61.9 million in lost tools and other items.
Analysis of all new vans on sale today by What Car? Vans found just 58% of models come with a factory fitted alarm as standard. Another 36.5% were found to offer a factory fitted alarm as an optional extra, while 5.5% of vans on sale today are not available with an alarm at all – though these tend to be older model iterations soon to be replaced.
Other security features, including remote central locking, were better represented with more than 90% of vehicles featuring the tech as standard, while deadlocks – a locking mechanism that doesn’t use a spring, making it harder to pick – are standard in more than 80% of vans on sale.
The lack of alarm technology helps explain the high number of van thefts in the UK. Between 2016 and 2019, 43,909 vans were stolen across the UK, according to exclusive figures sourced by What Car? From across the country’s 45 police forces. This equates to more than 30 vans a day.
The worst area for van thefts was London, with 14,263 vans stolen in the four year period, while 44,742 were broken into by thieves. Across all police forces, van thefts rose by 8.21% between 2017 and 2018. Theft figures for the first half of 2019 suggest another year of rising statistics, with more than 8,200 vans stolen in the first six months of last year.
Jim Holder, editorial director at What Car? Vans, said: “More than four million van drivers rely on their vehicle for work or business needs. The fact that four out of 10 new vans on sale do not feature a factory fitted alarm as standard is a cause for concern – especially as our research found more than 43,000 have been stolen since 2016, with a further 117,000 broken into.
“While newer vans and higher trim specifications now come with many of the security features as standard, it’s concerning to see owners of lower trim levels having to fork out extra for something as simple as an alarm – this is something the industry needs to work on and underlines why van buyers must do careful research before purchasing their next vehicle.”
Insurance Edge recommends the old fashioned yellow steering lock, and a tracker device. There are potentially more places to hide a tracker on a van, than in the average car, so you do have a decent chance of getting your vehicle back as thieves tend to park them somewhere for a day or two to see if anyone is tracking it. When the van is the key to earning your living, that’s worth pricing up.