Roadside assistance vehicles can be a common target for theft, due to the high volume of expensive tools and equipment they contain. And, with recent research revealing tool theft has increased by 15% in the past 3 years (Automotive World), it’s well worth knowing what you can do to deter thieves from your breakdown recovery van.

Here, are five top tips for keeping your roadside assist vehicle safe and secure, no matter what the time or location.

Don’t leave tools in your van overnight
It may sound obvious, but storing your tools and equipment in your van leaves you vulnerable to theft. As your van may be marked with the company logo, it’ll be easy for potential car thieves to figure out what might be in your van, making it more likely to be a target.

To deter thieves from breaking in, it’s be a good idea to always remove any tools and equipment each night and put them back in the morning. That way, even if your van is targeted, the criminals won’t get away with any valuable or expensive goods from your vehicle. And always double check that you’ve locked your van before leaving it on a night.

If you must leave your tools in your van overnight, make sure you’re parking in a locked garage: not only will this help to prevent theft, but it could also help to lower your insurance premiums.

Be careful where you park
It’s not just night-time when your tools are at risk. Thieves will take any opportune moment they see to break into a roadside assist vehicle, so make sure you’re parking in busy car parks and streets as the amount of witnesses around may put them off.

If you do have to park in more secluded areas, it’ll help to have additional security installed to give you peace of mind. Dash cams are a good option for all vehicles, including those carrying goods like

roadside assist vans. Not only can they monitor what’s going on inside the vehicle, but they can also record what’s going on outside of it. There are even specially made cameras for vans, including ones that monitor what is going on at the rear of the vehicle which could also be an effective deterrent to opportunistic thieves.

Invest in extra security measures
Steering, handbrake and transmission locks provide an extra obstacle for thieves to overcome if they do manage to break into your vehicle. Slam locks will automatically lock your doors every time they are closed and are particularly useful if you’re busy doing quick stops where you might forget to take these precautions. Alternatively, you could use immobilisers which cut off the electrical supply to the engine and can only be mobilised again with the right key or remote control.

You might also benefit from having a secure storage system, like a lockable, secured tool chest, to put thieves off if they do manage to get inside your van.

Make use of warning stickers
You can put potential thieves off by explicitly telling them about the security measures you’ve taken to deter them. Having stickers in the window that warn them of recording devices, alarms and trackers will help to decrease the chances of any perusing criminal breaking in, as they may decide your vehicle isn’t worth the hassle.

Another way you can warn thieves is to have your tools security marked. This can be done entirely by you and includes giving each of your tools a barcode, as well as a unique fingerprint that is impossible to remove, so will make it harder to sell the tools on and give them lifetime protection. And, as the kits to do this aren’t too expensive, they’re well worth the purchase.

Think outside the box
Thieves aren’t just looking for tools: there are also other valuable parts of your vehicle that they may be interested in stealing, so you’ll need to take measures to protect these as well. Catalytic converters contain precious metals and the ones in vans are particularly vulnerable as they’re relatively easy to access. Anti-theft devices for catalytic converters use stainless steel collars, strong head bolts and tamper-proof nuts to secure the column in place.

Tool theft can have a big impact on your business, and criminals are getting increasingly innovative with new ways to target vehicles. However, with my top five tips, some preparation and smart thinking, you’ll be protecting your tools both on and off the job.

Author: Wasim Bux from personal insurance provider iGO4.