A STUDY by  Vanarama is warning van drivers to be vigilant against thefts, after seeing an 18% rise in stolen vans last year.

Using an FOI to the DVLA, Vanarama revealed the most stolen vans of 2023 and the month that thieves targeted these vehicles the most. They have also shared six expert tips to ensure your van is protected from criminals.

The number of van thefts last year increased to 12,950 across the UK, an 18% jump from 2022’s total. Although the total is smaller compared to car thefts across the UK, which had a 5% increase and amounted to 64,087, it seems drivers just can’t get away from criminals targeting their vehicles.

The Mercedes-benz Sprinter 313 CDI was the van targeted the most in these crimes, 938 vans were stolen between January and December last year. This was 42% higher than the van ranked in second place which is another Mercedes model, the Mercedes-benz Sprinter 314 CDI, which was targeted 660 times.

Rounding off the top three most stolen was the Ford Transit 350, with 601 reported as stolen last year according to the DVLA.

Top 15 most stolen vans in the UK

Rank Van Thefts
1 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 313 cdi 938
2 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 314cdi 660
3 Ford Transit 350 601
4 Ford Transit Custom 290 eco-tech 344
5 Ford Transit 125 T350 rwd 264
6 Ford Transit Custom 270 eco-tech 251
7 Ford Transit 100 T280 fwd 230
8 Ford Transit 115 T350l rwd 200
9 Ford Transit 100 T260 fwd 177
10 Ford Transit 85 T280s fwd 170
11 Ford Transit 350 Leader ecoblue 160
12 Ford Transit 85 T260m fwd 152
13 Peugeot Boxer 335 Pro l3h2 blue hdi 146
14 Ford Transit Custom 290 trend e-tec 126
15 Ford Transit 85 T280m fwd 115

You’re most likely to get your van stolen in March

When analysing the data, March had the most van thefts throughout the year, with 1,262 occurring during the month. Up 8% on the next highest month, which is January with 1,165. The darker nights could cause more criminal activity, March is the last month before the lighter nights appear as it’s the month of daylight saving. March is also when new car registrations are released, so this too could impact the figures.

You’re less likely to get your van stolen during the summer, the data suggests. In June only 932 van thefts occurred across the month, 35% less than March. The lighter nights could be putting off criminals as they could be spotted more easily.

Over 50% of vans stolen in the UK are from Ford, but this could be the reason why

As one of the best-selling brands for both cars and vans across the UK, the manufacturer Ford saw the most vans stolen with 6,807 last year. 53% of the total vans stolen belonged to the manufacturer. However, with over 1million LGVs on the road, it’s no surprise that Ford has higher theft rates than other manufacturers. Using the total number of Ford Transits on UK roads according to Statista and figures obtained through the FOI, only 0.6% would have been stolen.

Mercedes and Vauxhall had the next highest number of van thefts across the year, again both popular manufacturers in the van market. It seems thieves are targeting whatever van they can find, and ones with potential goods inside, as it was revealed that nearly a quarter of tradespeople had tools stolen last year.

Six expert tips to keep your van safe from thieves

With van theft on the rise Vanarama has shared six expert tips to ensure that van drivers keep their vehicles safe this year.

1. Don’t leave tools and valuables in your van

Simply put, where possible, avoid leaving tools & valuables in your van overnight. It’s easier said than done in some cases, but removing tools overnight is a major deterrent to potential thieves. If you do have any kind of external storage or ladders mounted on your vehicle, remove or empty them when you leave your van overnight.

2. Make sure your van comes with an alarm or get one added

Modern vans often feature security measures as standard or optional extras that can be added by the manufacturer – whether that be things like alarm systems, trackers or immobilisers. Most vans should come with an alarm & immobiliser – do check they’re Thatcham category 2 approved (simply means it has an immobiliser system integrated into the alarm system). Some vans you can add these down the line, but look at the cost.

You should also look at locks for your van, Vanarama recommends the following options:

  • Slamlocks: These locks lock themselves automatically when you close a door – perfect for couriers or short-drop drivers.
  • Stoplocks: This type of lock links both sides of a door together making it hard to use a crowbar or pry bar to break in.
  • Deadlocks: This kind of unsprung lock is manually locked & unlocked by a separate key – it works in the same way as a deadlock on your front door.
  • Lock Covers: These covers stop thieves from being able to target weak spots on your van’s existing locks – can cost a bit but are worth it.

3. Keep a list of the items in your van

For your own peace of mind as much for insurance purposes, keep a list of everything you keep in your van (with photos). That way it’s easier to spot a theft or missing item quickly & you have recorded data to better claim insurance or replace the item.

4. Use a UV pen to mark items

Most people will check tools being sold second-hand for UV markings that don’t match the seller (which usually indicates they’re stolen property). So, make it easier to identify your tools in the unfortunate event they get stolen by marking them with your business name or address in UV ink.

5. Park your van in a safe location

Parking your van outside your house, on your driveway or in a garage is best, but somewhere well-lit if you have to park on the road is good too. Lots of people have taken to buying CCTV cameras to monitor their vans overnight – some have even bought fake cameras which are just as good a deterrent. Motion-detecting lights are also a great investment to fit outside your house.

6. Make sure you have the right insurance

Most van insurance policies won’t offer contents insurance, but bolt-on insurance products can be bought for very little extra which specifically cover tools, devices, key loss & more. Robust insurance can really help you stay focused on your business rather than constantly worrying about what to do if the worst happens.

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