As a tradesperson or ‘man-in-a-van’, your van is nothing short of vital for your trade. With your van being quite literally the vehicle for your success, to say nothing of the tools within it, it stands to reason that you would be protective over it. Sadly, with rising crime rates, particularly in the realm of tool theft, the risk to you as a business is higher than ever. What can you do to keep your equipment safe?
As a general rule, you should try not to leave your van anywhere that isn’t regularly visited by others. While the temptation is there to park yourself somewhere out of the way, this gives burglars the upper hand; people are much less likely to catch them in the act, and they will be much bolder about taking you for everything you have.
By this same token, parking in dark or poorly-lit spaces can make it much more probable that you are broken into. Well-lit and well-populated areas are a deterrent to burglary, as any would-be criminals could be caught in the act with relative ease.
GPS technology: this is now commercially available and exceedingly cheap for the benefits it provides. You could place GPS tags in your toolboxes and even in the wheel arch of your van; this way, should anything go missing, you can take the exact location of your materials to the police and ensure recovery.
Insurance of one kind is already a legal requirement for you when driving, but this kind of insurance does not necessarily protect your belongings in the case of theft. While it can sometimes be hard to justify additional expenditure on insurance, a second policy to protect your tools could well pay for itself.
One emerging option for contractors and freelance traders here is SMART repair insurance. SMART stands for Small-to-Medium Area Repair Technology, and extends coverage to a number of areas – from customer or client materials to public liability and, crucially, the tools on which you rely. This insurance model is comprehensive enough that multiple business needs could be met in one; where theft can sometimes be impossible to prevent, insurance coverage can at least shield you from the cost of rebuilding.
Lastly, a small but essential point: does your van invite burglary? Depending on your trade, you might not be able to avoid having branding on the side of your van; but the flashier the branding, the bigger an advert your van might be. Consider an understated design, or even letting your van get a bit mucky, to improve your chances.