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Date: 03/07/18

Do you keep tools in your van?

How should you secure your van when tradesman’s vehicles are increasingly being targeted by thieves?  Your van is your office, garage, and tool chest, where you keep everything you need to earn a living - your tools, fixings, machinery, parts and supplies.

Every 23 minutes a van is broken into – don’t let yours be the next!

29597  Armorgard Van Theft Graphic (article page)

We’ve put together a comprehensive check list of things you could do to keep your van and its contents safer and more secure.  Many of these are simple precautions that don’t cost anything, but require a little care when leaving your van.  We’ve written this to help and protect you - if you find it helpful, remember to spread the advice and share it with someone else who could benefit.

For starters, we all know when it comes to securing your van that prevention is better than cure – however that’s often easier to say then do.  We’ve rated our recommendations by the ease of implementing them, and we’ve also tried to give you an indication of likely costs so you can quickly see that they might pay off.


Difficulty Rating


Lock van and close windows

Very easy


Park your van tightly in a corner



Park your van in a bright, well-lit area


£0 - £100



£100 - £400

Van stickers



Remove tools overnight



Keep receipts and an inventory of your tools



Mark tools with a UV pen


£5 - £10




Advanced locks


£20 - £350

Van lock protection plates


£350 - £450

Van box





£100 - £200 p/a


Lock your van, and close the windows (very easy, £0)

  • By doing this, you’re taking the first step to deterring thieves: over half of all tool thefts are reckoned to be opportunist thefts.  By keeping on your toes and locking up properly, no matter whether you’re leaving the van for a minute or ten minutes, you’re halving the chances of being victimized.

Park your van tightly in a corner to block access to the rear and side doors (easy, £0)

  • This is an oldie, but a goodie.  Most vans comes with a single sliding door on the passenger’s side, which means if you park it very tightly in a corner, the rear and side doors are totally inaccessible - unless the thief decides to take out the wall…

Park your van in a bright, well-lit area (average, £0 - £100)

CCTV (difficult, £100 - £400)

Van stickers: “no tools left in this van overnight”, “This van is alarmed” (easy, £10)

  • While van stickers are great, you have to be careful – the “No tools left in this van overnight” doesn’t cut ice any more.  Any thief knows that the only person that is likely to use these are the people that leave their tools in the van, so it’s best not to advertise it!  However, adding some stickers that mention the security of your tools - such as advertising a strong alarm system - can be successful.  Armorgard offer some great van stickers that advertise “My tools are secured with Armorgard”.  Another trick which is gaining popularity is to advertise yourself as something other than a contractor – a big magnetic sign saying “Florists” or “Butchers” on the side of your van isn’t going to attract much attention from tool thieves!

If possible, remove the most expensive tools overnight (average, £0)

  • It’s generally harder to break into a building than a van, hence you will see this advice a lot.  It’s a good idea, although it can be hassle to put into practise.  It may seem worthless to cart your tools to your van and back every day but this is about prevention and minimizing your loss if anything does happen.  At the very least, consider removing the three or five most expensive pieces of kit from your van overnight.

Keep receipts, pictures and an inventory of your cargo and tools (average, £0)

  • This is something you hear a lot from those that have been victim of theft – they wish that they had definite proof of the tools they had – because an insurance company will almost never just take your word for it.  Keeping a file of the receipts, keeping an up-to-date inventory of all your tools and regularly taking photos of them in your van all help to create a solid insurance claim.  It will take a little time but cost you nothing.

Mark tools with a UV pen (easy, £5 - £10)

  • The police recover thousands of stolen goods every year: but this work is wasted if they can’t positively identify the owners.  Goods are only returned if owners can provide proof that the goods are theirs.  Using a UV pen is the most reliable and simplest way of doing this – it leaves an invisible mark that can only be detected using UV light.  You can pick up a pack of 10 on Amazon for less than £10 [] to leave your personal sign on your tools for identification later.

Alarms (average, £200)

  • Van alarm systems are becoming more and more popular as a strong additional line of defence for your van.  Systems like the Smart 360 can be purchased from £200, [] and are advertised to call your phone within 8 seconds of a break in, making it a fast and efficient way to get alerted of any problems.

Advanced locks (difficult, £20 - £350)

  • Slamlocks – these locks are designed to lock the door securely every time it’s closed, hence the name.  Slamlocks can be fitted to most vans, and can be purchased from sites such as [] The best slamlocks to have are those that are vehicle specific and inset into the van door.  Slamlocks can also be keyed alike to avoid having too many keys.

  • Deadlocks – deadlocks are a type of lock that don’t have a spring loaded bolt, and therefore need a key to physically turn the internal cylinder, which in turn moves the bolt – making it a very difficult lock to pick.  When a 5-lever deadlock is paired with anti-drill plates, you get one of the most secure locks on the market, and the only one that is usually accepted by insurance companies for house doors.  Companies such as Van Lock Store [] will professionally fit deadlocks on your van for you, or you can find tutorials on youtube that show you how to do it yourself.

Van lock protection plates (average, £100 - £450)

  • These are plates which cover the area around the lock with an additional layer of reinforcement, making locks harder to break or pick.  These can be purchased from sites such as [ ] and are usually van specific – but don’t worry, protection plates are available for most popular vans.

Van box (easy, £150)

  • There are several brands of van box available on the market that can upgrade your tool security.  It’s worth choosing a box that is strongly built and with good reviews.  Features such as anti-jemmy design, reinforcements, deadlocks and thick steel are all features to look out for when choosing the perfect van box.  Van boxes to avoid are those that are secured with a padlock, as most padlocks can be twisted open with a good jemmy.  For about £150, you can pick up a new Armorgard TuffBank [] which is a good size to fit most vans and trucks and fits all the criteria – or go one better and get a StrongBank [], which is the best of the best!

Insurance (average, £100 - £200)

  • Are you insured?  Check your insurance documents thoroughly as insurances will usually only cover you in very specific circumstances.  Make sure you are familiar with them, and do everything you can to make sure you’re covered at all times.  For instance, most insurance companies won’t accept a claim for stolen tools if your van wasn’t locked at the time.  If you feel the conditions of your insurance are unrealistic, you could try to renegotiate or find a better provider that covers you for what you need.  You can get insurance for around £150 per annum to cover your van and tools up the value of £10,000 – we recommend speaking to a broker such as Biba [] or Simply Business [] who will go over your requirements and put you in touch with the best provider.

If you have the bad luck to be a victim of tool theft, here’s a few things you should consider doing:

  • Report your tool theft to the Police straight away, so they can try and track down the thieves: if you have CCTV footage or other evidence they will want to have a record.  This also means you should be notified when they have any updates or if they find any goods that match those you lost.

  • Notify your insurance company as soon as possible.  Sometimes insurance companies need to know about the incident within a few days for your claim to be valid, so it’s important to let them know straight away.

  • Check out any local second hand tool shops, Cash Converters, local car boot sales and so on – thieves are lazy and don’t often travel far to get rid of their goods.

  • Keep an eye on eBay, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and other second hand online selling sites – if you see your tools appear, you can raise a ticket with the customer service team for that site.

  • Keep an eye on police updates.  Most county police constabularies use Flickr to post photos of recovered goods – if you recognise anything as your own you can contact the police on 101 to claim it. Google your counties police website to find out how they advertise recovered goods.

  • Post images of the tools lost online, on social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and use popular hashtags such as #vantheft #tooltheft #vansecurity #vancrime #stolen to make your post easily searchable.  If people see the tools you have lost they might contact you or report it to the police.  It also makes it very hard for thieves to sell your tools if people can easily recognise them as stolen.

  • Don’t feel isolated – there are plenty of people that have joined forces on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to fight back at van thieves – here’s a couple of groups you should consider joining: Tradesmen Against Thieves [] and Van Security Talk Group []


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