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Van Break-Ins & How to Prevent Tool Theft

Posted in Articles | July 17th 2019

Tool thefts are at an all-time high, and those of us with work or personal commercial vans are most at risk. Thieves are breaking into vans through various methods, stealing tens of thousands of tools and contents and often, causing very expensive damage that can hinder use of what could be your work van.

Van break-ins occur across the country and everyone is at risk if tools are left unattended. However, according to a recent study, London, Birmingham and Sheffield are the most highly affected areas for van thefts, with Essex and Kent also very high up on the list. With this all being said, there are several ways to prevent the most common forms of van break-ins, including the ‘Peal and Steal’ and the use of Electronic Keys.

Methods Used to Break into Vans

Peel and Steal

The much-used ‘peel and steal’ method is at an all-time high and is one of the main reasons that van break-ins are on the rise. Intruders use their knees to apply pressure to the vans side doors, before pulling open from the top and creating a lasting bend in the door. This may sound impossible to some but watch this video to see just how they get away with it.

Electronic Keys

Probably the most ‘sophisticated’ way to enter and steal from a van, is the use of a skeleton or electric key. They are fully legal and are often too readily available to the public, meaning this is an easy and damage-free way for thieves to remove tools from your van.

Lock Forcing

This is one of the most common and more subtle ways to steal tools and contents from a van, despite it requiring a tool to do it. Thieves simply use a wrench or like tool and remove the outer plastic surrounding the door lock, before twisting and prising away the lock from the fitting. The door will then unlock, open and result in the back doors also unlocking for easy access.  

How to Prevent Break-ins and Keep Tools Safe

  1. Lock Your Van. This one may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget. Let’s say it’s raining, and you’re rushing into the house or distracted by a friend or colleague. It’s that easy to forget to lock your van, making it an easy job for thieves to enter and steal.
  2. Park Smart. Isolated vans are a much easier target for thieves, so ensure that you park near to other vehicles. Ideally you want to park your van in a well-lit area, within clear view of CCTV and other vehicles – or even your house if you can! Even better, park next to a wall or fence, which will mean that thieves won’t have access to your doors at all.  
  3. Enhance Your Locks. Add some additional safety features to your van including alarms, immobilisers and the less-expensive deadlock or second lock system. Opting for something like the Milenco Van Door Lock, secures your side and rear doors and may act as a deterrent also.
  4. Store Tools Securely. We'd suggest that you remove all tools from your van overnight. However, if this isn't an option, we'd suggest you install some form of tool secure storage like the Van Guard Tool Stores.


Most Secure Vans to Own

Have you ever wondered just how secure your van is? Well, if you're van is one of the below, you know you've got yourself a pretty safe and secure commercial vehicle. With that being said though, we would still recommend taking some further precautions to ensure opportunistic thieves don't take advantage. 

  • Ford Transit Custom
  • Mercedes Sprinter
  • Fiat Fiorino
  • Volkswagen Caddy
  • Nissan Primstar


If you follow our above tips and take all the precaustions needed, your van shouldn't be an obvious target to thieves. But as mentioned, remove all tools where possible, to ensure that if a theft does occur, they won't be the ones laughing!