Some Tips on how to Avoid Having Stuff Stolen out of Your Service Vehicle

Having your stuff stolen can affect any motorist, but when it happens to a trades or service person, the consequences go far beyond the cost of lost tools. For the rest of us, it can be devastating as well, with no recourse and very little help in finding our lost stuff from both police and insurance.

In most car theft cases, thieves damage vehicles in a bid to access the many things vehicles might have inside, such as the tools. Theft of tools and/or the vehicle could run owners out of business. Without their tools and a service vehicle, coupled with inadequate compensation plans from insurance companies, trades and service people are unable to earn any money to replace the tools they have lost.

Even if the vehicle is left intact, research shows that 50% of workers are unable to work after being stolen from, with some not resuming work for as long as two weeks. This could hurt the tradesman financially, and the effects are even worse if it was their sole source of income.

To minimize the chances of falling victim to such theft, business owners need to understand how thieves target service vehicles and vans in particular.


Carjacking incidents are surprisingly common – according to a report from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), around 38,000 carjackings take place each year in the US alone. Potential carjackers employ a variety of methods to catch drivers off-guard, so it’s essential to stay vigilant when you’re driving and read up on the best ways to avoid them. One common tactic, for example, is for carjackers to bump a target vehicle from behind, and then make their move once the driver has stopped their vehicle to exchange insurance details. It’s always best to keep this in mind should you find yourself in this situation – never leave your vehicle unattended.

Door Peeling

While most vehicles have sensors in the front doors, the back doors, and side doors, roofs are often left unprotected. Since most vehicle manufacturers these days focus on increasing their fuel efficiency by reducing the thinness of the metal used, they become easy to peel back. In most cases, this only requires basic tools to accomplish.

Key-fob Hacking

This method involves the use of equipment to intercept and replicate the radio signal from the locks of the van to the keys. Using an intercepted signal, criminals are then able to unlock the target vehicle using a scanner.

Knowing how much losing tools and vans to thieves can affect tradespeople, you should ensure you take every measure possible to reduce the risk of this occurring to you, especially for those in urban hotspot areas.

Here are some tips that will significantly reduce your chances of falling victim to tool thieves.

Be Aware of the ‘Hot Times’

While security is something everyone should always keep in mind, there are times when vigilance should be doubled. Such ‘hot times’ include Christmas, the month of July, and Mondays.

Employ Intimidating Security

Security for most tradespeople is seen as a double-edged sword because most tool thieves are opportunistic and will hope for the easiest or surest options. By using a large padlock or other visible deterrents, thieves will know there is something of value inside and could be more tempted to break into a vehicle.

On the other hand, using visible deterrents that are large and intimidating will make thieves seek more accessible options as they prefer a quick ‘in and out’ operation.

Mark your Van the Correct Way

While branding your vehicle is a great way to promote yourself to potential clients, it can also be used as an extra security measure. When you brand your service vehicle properly, you could deter thieves looking to steal your van since some of them may decide that the cost of repainting it is not worth it. This could make your vehicle less of a target.

The downside of branding your service van is that you will be declaring to all thieves that your vehicle is a potential gold mine. So if you do brand your van, ensure you have other precautions in place.

Store your Tools elsewhere if Possible

This option may not be suitable for tradesmen who need to use their tools on an everyday basis or those with bulky tools, but for those using tools that can be easily carried in and out of vehicles, it would be much safer to lock your tools in a storeroom or inside your home than to leave them in the back of your van overnight.

Track your Van

A report shows that less than 30% of stolen tools and vans are ever recovered. Installing a tracker in your van will make its recovery easier when it gets stolen. A good tracker will help investigators get to your vehicle earlier to minimize the impact that the loss of your tools could have on you.

By applying the tips suggested above, you will shield yourself from the crippling effects of losing your van and work tools.

Jessica Kelley is a freelance writer based in the UK, writing on a range of subjects including lifestyle, small business, and transport. When she’s not writing she can be found curled up with a good book and a cup of tea. Find her on Twitter or

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

Photo attribution: Jason Lawrence licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

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