Theft awareness for tradespeople

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  Posted by: electime      20th August 2019

It’s one of the biggest frustrations to tradespeople, and sadly one of the most common obstacles they face: theft of vehicles, equipment and materials.

The activities of light-fingered site visitors and passersby, who help themselves to basic materials, can slow down a job. Theft of your vehicle – or the tools it contains – can potentially cost you far more, putting your whole business venture at risk.

The hidden cost of losing vans and tools

CAPTION: Some tradespeople value tried-and-tested tools on more than just their replacement value.

When you lock away your commercial van and equipment at your base, it’s relatively easy to take robust measures to deter would-be thieves. Out on the road or parked up at a job site, keeping your belongings – and livelihood – safe, becomes more of a challenge.

The statistics on thefts from tradespeople make for sober reading. Research shows that a commercial vehicle is broken into every 23 minutes in the UK, and the average cost of replacing tools is £1,692 per tradesperson.

Many of the 3.2 million van owners in the UK have experienced vehicle crime not once, but repeatedly. In fact, a survey by Simply Business shows that over half of UK workers experienced multiple tool and equipment thefts.

Crimes of this kind can ‘knock you for six’. Insights on van security show that 71% of workers suffer feelings of anxiety after being the victims of crime, and over half miss work the following day. Some take up to two weeks to feel ready to face work.

Here are some ways to prevent thefts from commercial vehicles.

Don’t ever be complacent

It’s easy to imagine that with the latest security systems – including keyless tech – your commercial vehicle is safe as long as you make sure you lock it.

The rise in car crime in the UK – which increased by a dramatic 56% in 2017 – proves that technology alone does not deter thieves.

Setting aside opportunist thefts from vehicles – and of vans – these are often well organised criminal gangs with the technology available to bypass security measures, including key fob hacks. They often ‘steal to order’ too. If your trade vehicle is new or high-end – or you use high tech or expensive power tools – it makes you especially vulnerable.

You must take measures to leave your vehicle in a safe area, preferably in a locked garage or yard overnight.

Make technology work for you

There are gadgets and gizmos that can help you to deter vehicle thefts, including tracker systems and small, versatile CCTV equipment. Their presence – highlighted with signage – can be off-putting. They can also give the police a hand in finding your equipment or van, and possibly arresting the culprits.

Keep your van well maintained, and updated

Thieves don’t always target new commercial models, particularly as older vans can be easy to break into, and in some cases contain highly saleable power tools.

Make sure your vehicle locks work, windows stay closed and your doors sit flush, of course. Also, be aware that door seal peeling can be used to gain entry when the rubber is cracked or frayed.

It’s the sort of issue that makes it commercially sensible to invest in up-to-date vehicles – with the latest theft deterrents built in – to get one step ahead of thieves.

Check your insurance cover

This may sound like common sense, but the small print in your policy can turn the inconvenience of vehicle thefts into a major drama! Also, cutting corners on the amount and type of protection you pay for can prove expensive when a claim gets denied.

One thing to make crystal clear is that your tools, materials and van are covered on-site, and in transit, not just in your own yard or driveway.

Different parts of the country have different car crime rates. The top three cities for issues of this kind are London (no surprise), Sheffield and Birmingham. If you’re on a job in an area that leaves your commercial vehicle and trade equipment vulnerable, be especially clear on what you can claim, and any grey areas of protection.

With adequate and appropriate insurance cover, at least you can get back into business quickly if the worst does happen.