Crime Trends

As autumn moves into winter Tracker warns of rising van thefts and urges LCV owners to be on their guard

Data from Tracker reveals that van thieves are at their busiest in the countdown to Christmas, with darker evenings and morning frosts creating more chances for the opportunistic. Ford Transit owners should pay heed to this warning, as Tracker reveals it was the most stolen van it recovered during 2021, accounting for 64% of all Tracker LCV recoveries. 


With the cost-of-living crisis bringing Christmas concerns for many, Tracker is also reminding business van owners that its theft might be greater than just the price of the vehicle. The loss of tools and equipment could result in lost income and a damaged professional reputation.


“It may come as no surprise that thieves use the cover of darkness to steal vehicles as the longer nights provide a greater window of opportunity to act undetected,” comments Clive Wain, Head of Police Liaison at Tracker. “However, our data indicates that the run up to Christmas is the time van owners should be most on their guard, particularly those taking advantage of seasonal delivery job opportunities to earn some extra cash. There is never a good time to fall victim to van theft, but losing your van, the tools or goods in them and potentially your ability to work, might be harder to bear right now.”


It’s not only Ford Transits that van thieves are targeting. The Mercedes Benz Sprinter which has been one of the UK’s best-selling vans so far this year[i] is also a prime target, as the second most stolen and recovered vehicle in 2021, closely followed by the Peugeot Boxer and Vauxhall Combo. With a global shortage of spare parts, Tracker is warning that even vans in a poor condition can be appealing to thieves, as they can be stolen to strip for parts in chop shops.


Clive Wain continues, “It doesn’t matter if you are a one-man-band or bigger business, no-one can afford the financial and emotional burden which a van theft can bring. On average tool-theft costs tradespeople £5,584 and a massive £5982 in missed jobs[ii]. We always encourage drivers to use traditional security deterrents such as crook locks and wheel clamps to deter criminals and protect their vehicles. Smart doorbells or a CCTV system at work or home are also increasingly popular amongst those keen to guard against unwanted visitors. However, in the event of a theft, stolen vehicle tracking technology will significantly help police quickly close the net on thieves and return the vehicle and its’ contents to its rightful owner.”


Tracker has an unrivalled stolen vehicle recovery rate of more than 95%, with 80% of those stolen vehicles recovered within 24 hours, thanks to its exclusive nationwide partnership with the UK’s police. Tracker’s solutions work like an electronic homing device. A covert transmitter is hidden in one of several dozen places around the vehicle. There is no visible aerial, so the thief won’t know it’s there. VHF technology unique to Tracker makes its units resistant to GPS/GSM jamming, confirming Tracker as a superior security defence against determined thieves.


Tracker’s Ten Van Security Tips


  • Don’t keep keys in a place where they can be seen or accessed from outside and if your van has a keyless entry system, consider storing your keys in a Faraday pouch to block the signal against relay attack technology. 
  • Never leave the keys in the vehicle’s ignition when you are stepping away from the vehicle, even if you are just jumping out quickly.  
  • Never leave your van running unattended when de-icing.  
  • Always lock and secure your vehicle and remember old-school physical deterrents like steering wheel locks are still effective.
  • Do not leave belongings or technology items on display, such as satnavs or mobile phones. Take them with you or lock them in the boot. 
  • Avoid leaving tools in your van overnight and remove anything stored externally on your vehicle.
  • Keep a list and photographic evidence of your tools and mark them with a UV pen so they can be easily identified and returned if stolen.
  • Never leave van documents or spare keys inside the vehicle – this only makes it easier for thieves to sell it on. 
  • Where possible park in busy or well-lit and attended car parks near CCTV cameras. 
  • Consider fitting a tracking device to help police recover your vehicle if it’s stolen.