4 tips for van owners looking to protect their vehicles from thieves

While vehicle crime figures in the UK have declined during 2016, business owners and light commercial vehicle users continue to see their vehicles targeted by thieves. 
Often left unattended for long periods of the day or night and usually containing expensive tools and equipment, light commercial vehicles can be easy targets for unscrupulous thieves.
Trevor Hodgson-Philips, Head of Service and Parts at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles offers van owners some useful advice to help better protect their vehicles:
Having your van broken into or stolen can not only be very stressful in terms of having to deal with insurers and police, but also result in days or even weeks of lost work as you go through the hassle of replacing tools and equipment. Thankfully a great deal of work has been undertaken in recent years to improve security of modern light commercial vehicles.
“Most vans today are now fitted with an alarm or electronic vehicle immobiliser to help protect the van and its contents.  For example, all Volkswagen vans come with a high level of safety and security features fitted as standard. However, for those owners who wish to add further protection to their vehicle, there is a range of steps they can take.
4: Parking
“Firstly, consider where you’re parking your vehicle. Parking it in a well-lit area or in a car park with CCTV will definitely help reduce the possibility of unwanted attention. Thieves will normally pick easier targets allowing them to commit offences without being seen.
“When there are no well-lit or CCTV covered spaces available or if you have more than one vehicle, parking them defensively can also help. By parking behind other vehicles or positioning a van so that the doors are blocked by another vehicle or object can be a very good deterrent.  Any way to inconvenience or make life difficult will help to deter attention from potential thieves.
3: Stop prying eyes
For those van owners who wish to further increase the security of their vehicles, there is a vast array of options available with varying levels of investment depending on the system. However, to ensure reliability with any complex installation, we would recommend using a recognised company to undertake any system fitting. This way, you can ensure warranties are maintained and peace-of-mind regarding fitment. Indeed, all aftersales accessories fitted by Volkswagen Van Centres are party to the same warranty guarantees given to all of its service work and parts.
A great place to start protecting your vehicle is to prevent prying eyes from seeing into your vehicle.  Fitting items such as window guards or a full internal bulkhead can stop people from looking inside a van and provide additional security to the load area. Adding a security film to the glass will help prevent thieves from smashing a window. Dependent on the type of film, it will deflect attacks entirely or encase splintered glass between the two film layers. In the latter case, the thief may still be able to access the vehicle, but it will prove more difficult and quite time consuming.
2: Additional locks and storage
Fitting additional lock systems to the rear doors or sliding doors can make it more difficult for thieves to force the doors open on a vehicle. The aftermarket devices are fitted to the door skin of the vehicle and owners simply use a key to undo the mechanism. However, while these types of systems offer additional protection, they are very visible and can advertise the fact that you are carrying something that needs security. There is also a balance to be struck between convenience and absolute security, so underdoing multiple locks each time you want to get something out of the back of the van may not be practical on a daily basis.
Another option could be to fit secure storage within a vehicle. Systems such as secure storage boxes or lockable internal racking and tool chests can all provide protection for expensive tools and equipment. Most racking solutions can be supplied with locking draws or compartments. Through working with the aftersales team at your retailer, you will be able to specify a racking solution that suits your exact security needs.  In addition, business owners that use any roof mounted systems can also do the same by having lockable fixing added to their devices.
A more expensive route is to fit a Thatcham’s approved alarm system.  In addition to this, there are also products that will track a vehicle should it get stolen. The police can then track the vehicle, increasing the chance of recovery and sometimes even resulting in the thief being caught red-handed at the wheel.
1: Anti-siphoning 
Finally, with the cost of diesel continuing to rise, the theft of fuel remains a problem so fitting an anti-siphoning device could help your peace-of-mind.  A more common practice however is the theft of catalytic converters – their rare material still making them valuable. To stop this type of theft involves the fitment of items such as welded-bolts or a protective screen to prevent these types of offences.
While there is a lot to consider when it comes to protecting your new vehicle, there are a few simple steps that can make life difficult for van criminals that don’t have to cost a great deal. When even considering additional security measures, it is always a good idea to speak to your retailer or a specialist installer to make sure that you are fitting the most effective and cost efficient method for your specific vehicle. By working with a recognised fitter or a vehicle retailer, you can ensure the reliability of the product is maintained and all warranties remain valid. Also when choosing a system ensure you select one that is Thatcham approved, as this will guarantee quality and sometimes provide a small discount on your insurance policy.
No matter which approach you take to protect your vehicle, the key thing to remember is that the harder you make it for a thief, the more likely it is that yours will be the van they ignore.
For more information on Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ aftersales security range or to find out more about its range of products and services, please visit www.volkswagen-vans.co.uk.