Keyless van theft is increasing: what are the risks?

van theft

According to 2019 recovery figures from Tracker, the stolen vehicle recovery (SVR) expert, 92% of the stolen Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) it recovered were taken without the owner’s keys – this has risen dramatically from 44% in 2016. The Ford Transit was again the most popular van stolen in 2019, accounting for nearly half a million pounds worth of recoveries.

“Keyless entry technology has now been widely adopted in the LCV market, and this is evident in the fact that last year, the majority of LCVs were being stolen without the owner’s keys. Today’s tech savvy criminals are commonly using relay-attack tools that can activate a van key fob remotely, fooling the system into unlocking the doors and starting the engine,” confirms Clive Wain, Head of Police Liaison at Tracker.

“However, the impact of van theft goes beyond the inconvenience of being without a vehicle. Victims, whether they are sole traders, small businesses or larger fleet operators, need to consider the financial impact such as the cost of replacing tools and a likely increase in insurance premiums.”  According to analysis by ECIC[1] the cost of insurance claims for theft of tools from vans has increased by 55% with the average theft of tools claim reaching £2,685.

Brand reputation can be at risk too if a business cannot serve its customers, due to the loss of a van and the equipment in it, highlights Tracker.  Add to this the administration headache of dealing with everything as a result of van theft, the burden on businesses is significant.

Clive Wain concludes; “It is worth remembering it’s not just about protecting your van from being stolen but safeguarding your business too. Ideally tools should be removed from vehicles and stored securely elsewhere overnight, or within a secure box fixed inside the van. Technology is just one part of vehicle security; more vigilance needs to be taken across the board to ensure all businesses are protecting their livelihoods.”

Additional costs of van theft to a business 

  1. Tool replacement costs
    if your van is driven off with all your tools on board you will face a major bill. The average collection of manual and power tools in a trade vehicle can be worth thousands. Even if they’re insured, it can take weeks to source and order replacements.
  2. Rising insurance premiums
     if your van is stolen, your insurance premiums rise – making it more expensive to run your van or fleet.
  3. Administration costs 
    dealing with the fallout of having your van stolen. Sourcing replacement tools, hiring temporary vehicles, reporting theft to the police, organising road tax refunds, taxing and insuring a replacement vehicle.
  4. Loss of business 
    when a van is stolen, it hits your productivity hard. If your business is a small one, you may even find yourself unable to serve customers — and that can damage your reputation and impact future business.


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