Alarming numbers of neglectful van drivers admit lapse in vehicle security

van drivers

An alarming number of UK van drivers are neglecting to take the security of their vehicle and its contents seriously, a new study has found, as over three in four (77%) confess they don’t have an alarm or immobiliser installed within their vehicle. A further 45% fail to lock their van when it’s not in use.

The research, conducted by the experts at iCompario, surveyed 1,000 UK van drivers who use their vehicle for work purposes about the actions they take to secure both their vehicle and contents when not in use. Three quarters (76%) of those surveyed said they knowingly leave themselves at risk by not taking sufficient care to protect their property and deter thieves.

According to the findings, a staggering 64% admitted they fail to remove their tools and other valuable items from their van when it’s not being driven, despite the role these items play in their livelihood.

Almost all of the UK van drivers surveyed (95%) are yet to secure the catalytic converter on their vehicle too, despite thefts of this part increasing significantly since the first COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2022.

Leaving themselves open to further vulnerability, a substantial eight in 10 (81%) UK van drivers also said they don’t park their van in a way that could stop a thief from being able to open or break the lock such as parking against a wall.

Furthermore, just a quarter (24%) ensure they park their van somewhere extra secure at night and j just three in 10 (31%) have a dashcam fitted for when they’re out on the road.

When quizzed about previous break-ins and theft experiences, a secured compound or workplace car park, a locked garage at home, or the van owner’s driveway were found to be hotspots (32% combined), despite appearing to be some of the most secure options.

According to the study, the most likely times for van related crime to take place is between 4am and 8am (22%), or between midday and 4pm (21%).

iCompario also sent out FOI requests to police forces across the country to find out how many vans were stolen or broken into between 2018-2022.

Of the 21 police authorities that responded to the request for information, Leicestershire was the UK’s number one van break-in or theft hotspot, with 10,494 crimes recorded between 2018 and 2022.

Van theft and break-ins: the UK hotspots  

  1. Leicestershire – 10,494
  2. Hertfordshire – 9,740
  3. Avon and Somerset – 6,832
  4. Surrey – 5,145
  5. South Wales – 3,919
  6. Derbyshire – 3,724
  7. Northamptonshire – 3,523
  8. Sussex – 3,180
  9. West Midlands – 2,974
  10. Dorset – 2,591
  11. Cheshire – 1,830
  12. Staffordshire – 1,448
  13. Gwent – 1,362
  14. South Yorkshire – 1,226
  15. Nottinghamshire – 1,130

Other areas of the UK that have experienced high numbers of van related crimes included Hertfordshire (9,740), Avon and Somerset (6,832), Surrey (5,145), and South Wales (3,919).

Comparatively, the Welsh counties of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, and Powys have seen the lowest numbers of van crimes, with just 50 recorded since 2018.

UK areas with lowest numbers of van thefts and break-ins 

  1. Welsh counties of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, and Powys – 50
  2. Cumbria – 86
  3. Cleveland – 550
  4. North Yorkshire – 654
  5. Cambridgeshire – 783

The Ford Transit is the van most targeted make and model by thieves across the whole of the country, according to the FOI findings.

In Hertfordshire alone 4,685 were targeted between 2018 and 2022, whilst in the number one area for reported van thefts and break-ins, Leicestershire, a total of 1,874 Ford Transit’s were targeted.

Other van makes and models that have proven most popular with thieves include the Mercedes Sprinter, Vauxhall Vivaro, and the Citroen Berlingo.

Of all areas compared as part of this study, Leicestershire also boasted the highest number of vans or items that had been stolen from vans that were later recovered, 463 (4.4%).

However, when looking at percentages, overall, Cumbria police force are leading the way having recovered a fifth (20%) of the vans or their contents that had previously been stolen in their area.

On the opposite end of the table, Sussex Police have the lowest recovery rate – just 3% (46) of the vans or contents stolen here between 2018 and 2022 were returned to their owners.

Kerry Fawcett, Digital Director at iCompario says: “As experts in van insurance, whether using your vehicle for work or leisure, we recommend taking plenty of precautions to protect your vehicle. By failing to do so, you risk not only leaving yourself open potential thieves, but you may also invalidate your insurance when having to make a claim.

“Much like the regular vehicle maintenance checks that should be made like topping up your oil or checking your tyre pressure, making the time each day to ensure you van is parked safely and securely when not in use should be at the forefront of every van driver’s mind.”

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