Locked up and looked after
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Taking commonsense measures could prevent most vehicle crime, but investing in extra security devices is a shrewd move, writes James Dallas
Four out of five vans are stolen when thieves first get their hands on the keys and 80% of vehicle crime occurs at night, according to the police’s dedicated vehicle crime unit the ACPO Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service.
So, the obvious advice to operators and owner/drivers seeking to deter the light-fingered is don’t leave keys in the ignition or on a peg in the office with a label on it, and don’t leave tools or valuable goods in the back of the van overnight.
Commercial vehicles are a tempting target for criminals because they can offer two for the price of one – the thief gets the van itself, and whatever it may be worth when sold on or disposed of for scrap metal, and also the bonus, or main prize, of whatever might be stored in the load area.
The UK’s biggest-selling van, the Ford Transit, is also the nation’s most stolen vehicle of any kind overall, thanks to its popularity, and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter makes the top 10 as well.
Van security specialist Van-Locked claims insurance figures indicate criminals target vans in the UK an average of 624 times a day – adding up to 225,000 break-ins or attempted break-ins a year.
Established 10 years ago, Van-Locked claims to have secured more than 5000 vans.
Prevention over cure
The firm says operators tend only to consider bolstering their fleets’ security once they have been hit by crime, and urges them to take a more proactive approach.
The firm’s products address general and vehicle-specific threats.
Popular examples include its Protektaplate range of bolt-through handle-protection plates developed for the Vauxhall Movano. Designed to prevent drilling around the handle, a four-door pack costs £142.
Van-Locked’s Transit Loomguard costs £18.50 and protects an exposed rear wire loom from being cut in an attempt to break into the van. While cutting the wire no longer allows access to the vehicle, damage still causes the remote locking to stop working until the loom is either repaired or replaced, costing up to £160.
From £21, the Sprinter Proplate is a security protection plate designed to protect the area surrounding the door handle on the Mercedes model that thieves target.
Van-Locked’s range also includes the Clutchclaw, which prevents vehicle theft by locking the brake and clutch pedal together, and Catloc, a catalytic converter and particulate filter anti-theft device, as well as deadlocks and slamlocks.
LCV security supplier Armaplate numbers blue-chip companies such as British Gas, Tesco and Kwik-Fit, as well as the Environment Agency and divisions of the Metropolitan Police among
its clients. It has four main products, two to protect door locks across all the major brands (Guardian and Sentinel) and two to protect catalytic converters (Armacat and Catshield, the latter of which is tailored specifically for the Mercedes Sprinter).
ViperGuard offers a van lock protection range for just over £100. The product covers a broad spectrum of vans such as the Ford Transit, Connect and Fiesta, the Iveco Daily, the Mercedes Vito, and large vans from Peugeot, Fiat, Citroen, Vauxhall, Renault and Nissan. The firm also produces a slam lock to protect load areas for £175 and a range of Tradesafe site-storage boxes priced from £141.
Vehicle telematics and security firm Cobra launched its Global Live mobile CCTV vehicle monitoring system with live streaming during the Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC in April. It aims to provide van operators with a means to combat incidents of load interception and theft while protecting drivers and passengers. The system allows operators to watch over their vans constantly, whether on the road or parked, which, according to Cobra, gives them the chance to react to incidents immediately and intervene in real time. In-vehicle cameras monitor the cabin and load areas while external cameras guard it from thieves.
Cobra points out the system can also be used to monitor driving standards and provide footage that is admissible as evidence in court. In addition, it says footage can help operators clamp down on fuel theft, load pilfering and staged accidents, which could help to reduce insurance premiums.
In hard times, operators may view investing in extra security as an unnecessary expense that’s difficult to justify, but in the long run it’s better to be safe than sorry, and also out of pocket.