Tool theft from vehicles increases: what van owners can do about it

February 27, 2023

tool theft from vans

Tool theft has recently become a challenge for businesses and tradespeople across the UK. Particularly tool theft from vehicles.

Table of contents

You may be surprised to know that:

Tradespeople are 10 times more likely to have their tools stolen from a vehicle than when they are at their place of work or on a building site.

Analysis of Metropolitan Police figures, Hertz Tools

This is worrying news for our customers. A good indicator for this is how search interest for ‘tools stolen’ increased by 117% from January 2020 to July 2022.

MET Police warning about tool theft from vehicles.

police van

Data from the Metropolitan police has revealed how tool theft from vehicles has increased by a whopping 25% in the past year, accounting for a third of all tool thefts recorded in the capital in 2021 and 2022. The theft of tools from vehicles is having a devastating impact on the industry.

We have noticed a significant increase in the number of customers who come to us asking for ways to upgrade their van security. Many of them have already fallen victim to a break-in or know someone who has had their tools stolen. This shows just how important it is to take proactive measures to protect your van and valuable tools from theft.

Understanding tool theft from vehicles

Which vehicles are more at risk?

Thieves are always on the lookout for high value tools, and they know that vans are often the best place to find them. This means that vans are at a much higher risk of being targeted by thieves compared to other types of vehicles. In fact, if you own a van in London, it is more than six times as likely to be stolen or broken into than a regular car. So, if you use a van for work or keep any valuable tools inside, it’s crucial to take extra precautions to keep it secure and prevent theft.

We offer a dedicated service for van operators, helping them to improve their van security.


In London alone, there were 34,712 tools stolen in October 2022 – A 62% increase on the 21,445 tools stolen from January 2019 to December 2020.

Image Credit: Tool theft from vehicles increases by 25% (Fleet News 2023)

Tradespeople Against Tool Theft

To help you understand more about tool theft, see Tradespeople Against Tool Theft. This is a white paper created to explore and highlight the realities of UK tradespeople who have been impacted by theft. It contains real life experiences of tradespeople, construction industry bodies and brands that have been affected by tool theft.

How thieves gain access to vehicles

Thieves are using a range of methods to break into vans. Break-in techniques are constantly evolving as manufacturers update their design and vehicle security features. Nevertheless, the fundamental principles of break ins and theft remain the same: to gain access to the vehicle quickly and easily without attracting attention

Relay Theft

One of the most prevalent methods of vehicle theft that we are seeing today is keyless theft, also known as a relay attack. A wide range of vans now come with keyless entry features for convenience. However, this convenience comes with a few drawbacks for van drivers. With this technology, criminals take advantage of keyless entry vulnerabilities by stealing the van key’s signal. This can be achieved using a device that amplifies the signal from the key, allowing the thief to unlock and start the car without ever having to physically touch the key.

In many cases, thieves who use this method don’t just tend to just steal valuables inside the van, they are more likely to make off with the vehicle itself. Look at our van security solutions to see how we can help you reduce the risk of this kind of theft.

Door Peeling

thieves peel van bodywork

Another common method of gaining entry to a vehicle is by door peeling. This involves using a tool or even just bare hands to peel open the vehicle. Thieves target doors, panels and gaps in the van’s structure. This method can be particularly effective for quick access to the load area.

Recently criminals have started puncturing the vehicle’s bodywork to get quick access to vital manufacture security systems such as the can bus, internal locks, and alarm. By doing this, they can have complete control of the vehicle by disabling the systems from the outside.

thieves pierce vehicle bodywork to get access to internal locks, can networks and alarms


In some cases, thieves will just simply force the locks open using tools such as drills and pliers. This can be a noisy and time-consuming process, but it can still be an effective way to gain entry to a vehicle especially if your van is not fitted with an alarm.

Consequences of tool theft from commercial vehicles

The effect of tool theft from vehicles is felt across the industry, from manufacturers, industry bodies, businesses, down to tradespeople. Tool theft may appear to be a trivial issue, but the loss of valuable equipment on a larger scale could have severe consequences for a business that is already struggling under the present economic situation, rising cost of living and trading conditions. The loss is often monetary however, we should never the discount the psychological effects of tool theft.

The Financial impact on van owners

A study by Volkswagen commercial vehicles, revealed that £2500 is the average value of tools stored per van, consequently this means that £4.4 billion is spent on replacement tools every year. The cost of replacing stolen equipment will affect the bottom line.

Loss of income for self-employed tradespeople

In the process of breaking in, vehicles are also damaged, making them unroadworthy. Getting the van fixed or replaced is costly time away from work. For self-employed people, losing tools could mean considerable downtime or additional equipment hire costs whilst waiting for replacement equipment. This will have a big impact on business operations and increase downtime.

Cost of insurance premiums

Tool theft can have a significant impact on costs, especially insurance costs. In the event of a tool theft incident, policyholders may be required to pay an excess fee each time a claim is made. Tool insurance is designed to cover the cost of replacing stolen or damaged tools, but it is important to note that some policies may not cover tools that are left in a van overnight. It is essential to carefully review the details of each policy to ensure that it meets your specific requirements.

Tool theft can put your brand image at risk.

Tool theft from vehicles can have a significant impact on your business’s brand image. If your tools or van are stolen, you may not be able to work. Downtime will cause delays in project completion and potentially disappoint your customers. This may lead to negative reviews and a damaged reputation, which can be hard to recover from.

To make it worse, in certain industries – customers may view your business in a different light if they discover that you did not invest in adequate security measures for your vehicles. This may make them question your professionalism and reliability, which could impact their decision to work with you in the future.

Failing to meet deadlines will also have a direct impact on winning future work. Customers who are dissatisfied with your performance may choose to work with a different tradesperson or company in the future, resulting in a loss of potential revenue.

Overall, tool theft can have significant consequences for your business’s brand image. Therefore, it is crucial to invest in security measures and take steps to prevent theft, as this will not only protect your tools and van but also help to maintain your reputation as a trustworthy and reliable tradesperson.

How can we help to reduce the risk of tool theft from your vehicles?

RS Connect Van theft Solutions.

With tool and van theft on the rise, now is the time to make sure your vehicle is properly protected. Our expertise lies in installation, which is a key area where we excel. We can help you secure your vans through a wide range of physical security solutions bespoke to your vehicle.

Van Alarm Systems

We are the go-to partner for van alarm installation and offer a range of solutions tailored to the specific needs of our clients. We install Thatcham approved alarm systems which are reliable and effective at preventing theft. It is also worth noting that some insurance companies require Thatcham approved alarm systems to be installed before providing cover. So, it is crucial to invest in a quality alarm system to protect your assets and remain compliant with insurance requirements.

Why do I need a van alarm when my van already comes with one?

You might be thinking, “Why should I bother getting another alarm system for my van when it already has one?” But it’s important to know that the default factory alarms that come with vans usually only protect the front cab area, leaving the back area (where the valuable tools are kept) vulnerable to theft. Also, the standard alarms are not proactive, which means they only go off after someone has already broken into the van. By then, it might be too late to stop them from taking everything. Compared to newer models, which alert you as soon as someone attempts to break in. So, it’s a good idea to consider adding an extra layer of protection. Get in touch with us today for our full range of van alarms!

lock on a van

Van locks

Van locks are a great way to protect your van, tools and equipment. Whilst the main job of a lock is security, locks act as a visual deterrent, making criminals think twice about attempting to break into your vehicle. Thieves are more likely to leave your van and target another one which hasn’t got locks on.

Our range of Van locks

At RS Connect, we are experts in van security systems, taking pride in the extensive range of locks we can supply and fit for our customers. These locking solutions can be tailored to the needs of your fleet. Contact us today for a consultation.

We supply the following range of locks:


Operating separately from the manufacturers locking system, the deadlock has a straight bolt which locks into an opposing body section. The driver gets an external key to operate the lock. Deadlocks are recommended for use on vehicle cab doors.

Slam locks

Slam locks automatically engage and secure your vehicle when the door is closed, requiring a key to gain access. These locks are great for delivery drivers. Other locks that we supply and install include Armour locks, Statement locks and Hook locks. Take a look at our van security offering for more information. Contact us if you need any of these installed on your vehicles.

Anti-Peel kits

Designed to reduce the risk of theft from criminals peeling vehicles. We install anti peel kits in vulnerable locations such as vehicle side and load doors. They come in bright colours for improved safety and can be fitted to both high and low positions.

Shielding and guards

We supply and install a variety of van shields and guards that provide both internal and external protection. These are great for preventing thieves from puncturing your vehicles bodywork to get access to vital systems such as internal locks, door latches and wiring looms.

blue ford custom


To prevent key related thefts such as key hacking, cloning and relay theft, we recommend immobilisation. We install a wide range of immobilisers, from basic models to passive arming and remote immobilisation for fleets. Our solutions are accredited by both Thatcham and Tassa which means that they are recognised by many of the UK’s leading insurers.

Need Help?

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help protect your tools and vehicles.

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