Keep Your Tools Safe: Van Security

Tradesmen everywhere rely on their tools, without them their livelihood can be affected. Builders, joiners, electricians, painters and decorators etc usually store expensive tools in their vans overnight. Unfortunately, determined thieves have found many ways to break into vans that leave them empty of tools and requiring expensive repair work.

Over Half Affected

Although an expensive nuisance big construction companies may have the means to instantly replace their stolen equipment, smaller companies or sole tradesmen seldom have that luxury. In fact, research has found that over half (51%) of builders in the UK have been the victim of tool theft.

It has become an organised operation. These are not just opportunists, they often work in gangs and use violence if they are challenged.


These criminal gangs are adept at covertly breaking into work vehicles, specifically vans. The tactics used can range from peeling back the roof like a tin can, signal jamming the key fob to disable the alarm or simply smashing a window. A popular trend that seems to have exploded in recent years is a method called ‘peel and steal’. Using a bit of force the culprits basically peel down the van door from the top and help themselves to its contents.


Sign up to your local Facebook crime prevention groups to keep yourself in the know when it comes to the latest crime, people share their experiences and tips to keep their property safe.

  • CCTV is a major tool in the fight against van theft. Place the cameras high up pointing down at your front door and garden, or wherever you have parked your van.
  • If you are just parking up for a few minutes or on a job then park your van in a well lit area and preferably in the view of CCTV cameras.
  • If you must leave tools in your van then use padlocks to make them as difficult as possible for someone to just walk off with them.
  • The best practice is to bring your toolbox in with you overnight. It may be a pain at first but get into the habit of storing your tools in the house.
  • Document serial numbers or take pics of your tools so you have evidence of what exactly has been stolen. Mark your tools with your name and address so that they can be easily returned to you if they are recovered.
  • Think of installing high security shoot bolt deadlocks on your van doors.
  • Put up warning signs and stickers that state you empty your van overnight and that CCTV is installed on your property.

Affected Areas

This type of theft has cost hard working tradespeople up and down the country close to £100million year on year. The TOP 10 most affected areas are as follows: 

  1. London
  2. Sheffield
  3. Birmingham
  4. Leicester
  5. Chelmsford
  6. Tunbridge Wells
  7. Bristol
  8. nottingham
  9. Northampton
  10. Reading

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