Thieves are increasingly targeting tools and equipment left in light commercial vehicles, according to ECIC, a specialist insurer for the building trade.

Urging van operators to step up security to protect their vehicles, ECIC said the value of claims for the theft of tools from contract sites and vans during the last year had risen from £2865 on average to £5091. The highest claim it received was for £83,500 for electrical cabling and copper piping stolen from a site in Kidderminster.

But ECIC said the most common thefts are from vans parked overnight in hotel and bed and breakfast car parks while tradespeople are working away from home.

The insurer said thefts from vans had become more prevalent during the downturn in the construction sector but with the recovery gathering momentum it urged operators to take simple precautions such as parking in well-lit areas close to security cameras and to empty vans when leaving them unattended.