Many trades will sadly know that the loss of a van and/or the tools inside can severely impact their business. Even if they're insured, they'll lose a significant amount of work time sourcing replacements, organising van repairs and rebooking appointments. So what can be done about it?
Help to change the law
Firstly, unless a change is made to how these crimes are dealt with, it's likely they will continue to increase. Therefore, a heating engineer* is leading the fightback against this epidemic which is costing trades their livelihoods, with a petition which calls for tougher action on the perpetrators of van crime. The campaign is being promoted across social media this November** with the hashtag #noVANber. It calls for mandatory sentences for those convicted, as well as compensation orders, meaning the criminals will be ordered to pay for what they've stolen and any damage caused. As well as your signature, the campaign is also asking you to tell your friends (who are not on social media), and share the petition as widely as possible across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram if you use them. The government has to respond if the campaign hits 10,000 signatures (which it's already done), BUT if the petition reaches 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in Parliament.
There have been many of these petitions in the past but, unfortunately, they've never achieved the amount of signatures required to get the government’s attention in the short timeframe allowed. So this is where you can all play your part and sign even if you think you've already signed and shared one in the past. Please get behind this campaign and spread the word that this is a crime that needs to be dealt with seriously.
> For more information on the campaign follow this link.
> To sign the petition follow this link.
*You can follow @pbplumber (who is leading this campaign) on Twitter and Instagram for updates.
**The petition can still be signed until 1 May 2019.
Secure your possessions
There are a number of preventative measures you can make in a bid to try to deter van thieves, including:
- Wherever possible, avoid leaving tools in your vehicle overnight. If it absolutely cannot be prevented, try to park in a busy, well lit area and in a way that will prevent thieves from getting to your tools, and even better if there are CCTV cameras covering it. If possible chain & padlock your tools to the inside of the van and ensure they are not visible from outside.
- Fit an alarm in the van and motion sensitive lights outside your property (if parking there).
- Mark your tools permanently and clearly with your postcode.
- Check you have tool insurance as part of your policy.
- Keep a note of serial numbers.
- Consider joining a register such as Immobilise or SelectaDNA to help police identify your property.
- Always lock your vehicle while driving and keep your van keys safe while you're working. Keep fuel and food stops to a minimum to reduce the amount of time your van is unattended.
- Never purchase cheap tools/goods from unknown sources. If you suspect that somebody is selling stolen tools, tell the police.
- In addition, always check for the latest official police advice on securing your van and property.
Of course, none of the above points may prevent theft but they will certainly help to make stealing your property less attractive ... AND importantly, if enough people sign the petition, hopefully it will bring about change in the law by ensuring tougher action is taken against the perpetrators of these crimes in the future!