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Van Security Report reveals the shocking scale of van thefts in UK

There were 11,729 recorded incidents of contents theft from vans/light commercial vehicles in just the first six months of 2020, according to Logistics UK’s Van Security Report.

So how can operators foil would-be thieves and protect their vehicles and their valuable contents?  Denise Beedell, Logistics UK’s Policy Manager for Vans and Urban, tackled this question when she delivered the key findings of the Van Security Report, launched at last Friday’s Van Operational Briefing.


Following alarming reports in a trade publication about van theft rising by 45% in four years, members of Logistics UK’s Van Working Group asked the business group to undertake its own research in order to ascertain the scale of the issue more clearly. Logistics UK submitted Freedom of Information requests on van crime to police forces across the UK, as well as undertaking its own Van Security Survey which it issued to all van users within its membership.

Beedell said: “The collated Freedom of Information responses results and the insights from the Van Security Survey were analysed and brought together in our Van Security Report, which we are now very pleased to launch.”


The survey asked respondents about both van theft and theft from vehicles. When asked where the most likely location a van was stolen from, the most common response was a driver’s home driveway, and the next most likely was on a street near the driver’s home. But when asked where a van was most likely to be broken into, it was most likely to be in a street location near a driver’s home or at the kerbside when the vehicle is parked.

“This suggests that the theft of the vehicle itself is likely to be planned,” Beedell said, “whereas stealing the contents of the vehicle is more opportunist.”


The police data shows that recorded van thefts in 2019 actually fell by 5%, compared to 2018. This was despite more than 2% more vans being registered in 2019 and the overall licensed van population increasing by more than 2.5%.

Van content thefts fell by 10% between 2018 and 2019. This may be because van operators have installed additional security measures such as locks or trackers. Alternatively, it could be due to increased driver training and awareness, or a consequence of issues with reporting crimes.

“The reason for this fall remains unclear,” Beedell said, “but what we do know is that 80% of respondents said they would pay extra for additional factory-fitted security measures.”


The cost of contents stolen from vans is rising. In 2019, police data from 27 forces, compiled by Logistics UK, shows that more than 8,000 vans were stolen and almost 29,000 content thefts were reported to the police.

Survey respondents reported on average that items were stolen from vans four times a year, costing them an average of £4,250 in total. The impact on business operations is clear. Nearly 70% of respondent incurred financial costs and 58% productivity loss.

“But more worrying is the impact on drivers,” Beedell said. “More than 60% of respondents said content theft negatively impacted the driver. And worryingly, in more than one in eight content thefts, the driver or an employee was threatened.”


Following the publication of its Van Security report, Logistics UK has formulated three key policy requests.

The first is to call on the Home Office to allocate a national crime reporting code for all commercial van thefts and thefts from vans.

The second is for van operators to report every theft from and of vans, regardless of whether an insurance claim will be made. Logistics UK would like to see a UK-wide standard reporting mechanism, ideally online, for van operators to report van crime.

Lastly, Logistics UK would welcome the opportunity to work with van manufacturers and vehicle equipment manufacturers to explore what vehicle security features should be developed for new vans to address the types of crime experienced by commercial vehicle operators. The business group also calls for social media platforms to remove any instructional content for committing van-related crime, such as 'How to...' videos.

Beedell said: “Vans are essential to UK businesses and we must ensure operators are aware of theft risks and are up to date on guidance for minimising them.”


Published On: 12/11/2020 16:00:32


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