In the run up to Christmas, it’s not un common to find tradesmen working seven days a week with queues of customers wanting home improvements complete before 25th December. Therefore, the Christmas break tends to be exactly that, a well-deserved break. Most tradesmen start their Christmas holidays on the affectionately termed ‘Black Eye Friday’. So, with lots of vans dormant on driveways this Christmas, it’s important you take extra steps to ensure your tools and van contents are safe.
It’s been well documented in the press recently that sadly, van theft is on the rise. In actual fact, there has been an increase of 30% in the number of claims made year-on-year since 2014. This time of year provides rich pickings for thieves as tradesmen are rushing around completing jobs before the big day. As the nights really are getting darker, this only adds to the problem, providing criminals with more camouflage. If the contents in your van gets stolen, not only is it expensive to replace, but can be very damaging to your business and cash flow. Shockingly, a quarter of people who rely on their van for work have experienced a break in within the last five year. Moreover, it’s estimated that 47,000 commercial vehicles are stolen each year! YIKES! The stats don’t look good, so what can you do to make sure your tools and contents are safe?
How can I make sure my van is safe?
Whilst most of what we’re about to tell you is common sense, when your rushing around, thinking about last minute presents you need to buy, you can often forget simple things like locking doors! Below are some of our top tips to make sure you are as safe as possible this Christmas.
Lock doors and windows – Yes, this is obvious, but so many people forget to lock doors, making it easy for thieves. Even if you are in and out of a house loading, or unloading your tools, lock your doors every time you leave the van.
Ring the alarm
Has your van currently got an alarm? A lot of older vans won’t, but it’s definitely something to think about investing in. Alarms act as deterrents to thieves, as there’s a higher chance of getting caught stealing from an alarmed vehicle. Another bonus to installing an alarm is that it may also lower your van insurance premium.
Out of sight, out of mind
Make sure your front seats are clear at all times, so there is nothing on show for thieves to steal. It’s not just tools they are after, ensure all money, branded clothes and electrical equipment are safely out of sight. If your glove boxes tends to be overflowing, why not get a small box to put all your odds and sods in?
Whilst it is an expense, you can buy a tracker for about £60. If you live in an area where van theft seems to be quite frequent, this could be money well spent. The bonus is, if you van does get stolen, you will hopefully be able to track it down and get it back.
Remove your tools daily
This might seem like a pain, but at least if someone does break into your van overnight, there won’t be any tools inside. If you keep your tools in your house overnight, make sure you have a house alarm and set it every evening when you go to bed. If you keep your tools in your garage make sure your garage is locked securely and park your van as close to the garage as possible. Ensure your garage area is well lit with sensor floodlights, this will hopefully act as a deterrent to unwelcome visitors.
Keep your keys safe
Do you get home and leave your van keys near the front door? Or how about when onsite, do you leave your keys on top of your tool box? If you answered yes to either of these questions, stop! Immediately. We’ve all heard stories about thieves putting wire coat hangers through letterboxes to steal keys, so it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. Ensure your keys are safely tucked away at all times.
Whilst you can spend lots of money make sure you van has all the latest tracking gadgets, when things go wrong you will need your insurance company to help you. Therefore, it’s always worth making sure you have protection should the worst happen. Ensure your policy provides you with a replacement vehicle so that you can still work and it’s advisable to have a policy that protects your tools. Make a note of when your insurance is up for renewal and set aside 20 minutes to thoroughly investigate the best policy options for you. It’s worth spending a little more a month to make sure you have the right level of cover.
Keep your roof rack clear
You will be amazed the things people will steal, even ladders are appealing. Therefore, make sure your roof rack is clear every evening. During the day, make sure your ladders are strapped down. You can even lock them up to ensure maximum security.
We’re sure you’ve had a really busy year and just focusing on getting to Christmas and that well deserved break! However, why not set aside 20 minutes between now and then to de-clutter your van. Not only is it a good idea as you step into the New Year to have a sort out, but having a neat and tidy van with everything out of sight it’s less appealing to criminals.
Look at your surrounding areas
Be mindful when on jobs of your surrounding areas and whether or not the neighbourhood looks safe. During the Christmas break, if possible, keep your van in a locked garage, that way there should be no temptations for potential thieves. If you live in a crime hotspot and won’t need your van during the festive period, you could investigate hiring a garage to keep your van in whilst not using it.
With fuel prices fluctuating, some people have taken to siphoning off fuel from other vehicles. If your van is parked up and not moving during the Christmas break, this could be a potential open invitation to thieves. Therefore, if you’re not planning on using your van this Christmas, it might be an idea to invest in a fuel cap lock.
What should I do if my van is broken into?
In the unfortunate situation where your van is broken into you need to complete the following:
Document the scene
Take pictures of any damage and make sure you thoroughly inspect the vehicle to see if anything has been stolen. If it has, make a note of all of the items and their value so you are completely clear on what has been taken.
Call the police
Even if you are not going to make an insurance claim, you should still file a police report and get a crime number. If you are going to make a claim, then you will need this crime number to do so.
Alert your bank
If your wallet has been stolen, you need to call your bank immediately to ensure all cards are stopped so that they cannot be used.
Call your insurer
Give your insurer a call and let them know what’s happened, you will need your personal details, vehicle details, policy number and crime reference to hand for the call
Are there any extra products I can buy to protect my tools?
As well as your van insurance policy, you can also purchase separate cover to protect your tools. Budget Insurance offer a fantastic Tools & Van Contents product designed to ensure that the tools and other contents in or on your van are insured against theft, malicious or accidental damage.
It is a common misconception that Tools & Van Contents Cover is only ideal for tradesmen within the building sector. However, our cover is also ideal for a wide range of professions including photographers, mobile beauty therapists and plumbers who also carry expensive equipment necessary for their jobs. But that’s not all, Budget Tools & Van Contents Cover is also designed to cover equipment you have for hobbies from cycling and golf to scuba diving and kayaking. We provide in-transit and standstill protection for your contents when it’s in, on, or being loaded and unloaded from your van, which would not normally be covered under your home insurance policy. As part of our cover, we can help you with the costs of replacing your tools and all levels of cover come with £10,000 of additional expenses. This part of the cover can help you out with costs such as transporting your goods to their destination if your van is involved in an accident. To find out more click here
We wish you and your family a healthy, happy and crime free Christmas!