How to Protect Your Van from Break-ins and Tool Theft

Van break-ins and tool thefts are on the rise in the UK. More than £83 million worth of tools have been stolen across England and Wales in the last three years. This equates to £83,500 worth of tools and equipment going missing every day.

Despite tool owners reporting these incidents, only around three per cent of the tools are ever recovered and returned, meaning tradespeople across the country have lost over £80 million worth of tools.

More than a quarter of tools are stolen from vehicles, while twenty per cent are taken from private residences and just ten per cent go missing from worksites or places of business.

Top Tips to Keep Your Van and Tools Safe

According to new research by Direct Line – Business, nearly half of tradespeople have fallen victim to tool theft, with over half of those who’ve had tools and equipment stolen said the theft took place during the night.

Roofers have had their tools stolen from them the most (65%), with electricians (58%) and plumbers (55%) following closely behind.


When parking your van overnight or leaving your vehicle unattended for several hours, a secure car park or garage will be the most suitable place to leave it.

Thieves don’t like light and cameras, consider parking your van close to lighting and CCTV. To deter thieves, park in busy, well-lit areas, preferably in view of CCTV cameras. If someone does break into your van, you’re more likely to find a witness or get the culprit caught on camera.

If none of the above are possible, it is good idea to park your van with the back doors or sliding doors facing close to a wall or against a building or fence, this will make it as difficult as possible for the thieves to gain access to your possessions.

Keep your tools hidden

If you can’t bring your tools in overnight or will be leaving your van unattended for prolonged periods during the day, keep your tools and belongings out of sight.

Just leaving a bag on display, even with nothing in it could tempt a thief. They may get away with nothing, but you’ll still be left with a broken window or damaged door and have to deal with the inconvenience and cost of fixing it.

If your van doesn’t come with a secure metal bulkhead, it would be an idea to invest in one. A metal van bulkhead will secure the back of the van from access through the front and keep the contents of your van out of view from the front windscreen.
Vans with glass rear and side door windows can be blacked out or tinted.

There are no rules for tinting the rear, or rear side windows. In the UK, only the front windscreen must let at least 75% of light through and the front side windows must let at least 70% of light through. Metal window grilles or window blanks installed inside will also provide a proven visual deterrent to theft.

Secondary storage inside the van

Consider getting yourself a lockable metal storage chest, even if it is for your most valuable tools, power tools, etc.

Storage chests come in many different sizes to suit your needs. Most well-made metal storage chests for vans will have a good locking mechanism and can be screwed or bolted through the inside to the van floor. Although this won’t prevent thieves from breaking into your van in the first place, it will at least mean they don’t take off with your most valuable tools and will likely deter any second attempt by the same thief.

A good quality dashcam

When making your decision on a dashcam, look for features like night vision, an inside and outside camera sometimes called an Uber dash cam, GPS tracking, parking mode and impact detection.

When activated, parking mode could capture a thief breaking into your van. Parking mode will start recording if it detects an impact or motion in front of the camera. To use a parking mode feature, you will most likely need a hardwire kit or an external dash cam battery so not to run down your main van battery.

Extra locks

Aftermarket van security locks are a great addition to keeping your van secure. A robust supplementary locking system could be the difference between thieves gaining access to your van and tools, or their attempt to break in successfully prevented.

One of the most popular locks that van owners turn to is a deadlock. Essentially, a deadlock is a mechanical device fitted to a vehicle door, it is a separate lock to the existing locking mechanism. These locks are very similar to a deadbolt commonly fitted on front doors in the home.

If thieves can get past the original van door lock, then they will also need to get past the deadlock system to gain access to the vehicle.

3 thoughts on “How to Protect Your Van from Break-ins and Tool Theft”

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