PETTY criminals and commercial vehicle vandals are costing UK businesses £620 million a year, according to figures released by small business insurer Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA).
The firm revealed that up to 13% of all business vehicle claims are caused by crime such as theft and malicious damage, with the average claim costing around £3,000.
According to R&SA, over half a million small business owners with a company van are affected by ‘van-dalism’ every year, which equates to almost half (41%) of all small business vans on the road.
‘Van-dalism’ makes up nearly a quarter of all UK crimes, despite being punishable by immediate arrest, an on-the-spot fine or, in some cases, an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO).
The crimes cost the UK’s purse over £2 billion every year in clean-up and other associated costs.
Chris Wallace, director of small business at Royal & SunAlliance, said: ‘The impact on the nation’s small businesses doesn’t just stop at damage to the vehicle. Owners also lose valuable business when vans are off the road and in repair, sole traders are unlikely to be able to work at all, and micro business owners with small fleets will find that productivity is severely affected.
‘Not only is this type of crime an added stress, but there are further repercussions. Many tradesmen generate new business via word-of-mouth or recommendation. With productivity decreased or halted, deadlines cannot be met and subsequent jobs may be postponed.
‘It may even result in firms having to turn down work.
‘This doesn’t bode well in terms of future cash flow, and it may damage a company’s good reputation.’
Top tips for beating the criminals
R&SA has compiled a list of simple measures which drivers can take to reduce the risk of vehicle crime:
Always lock your van doors and shut the windows whenever you leave your van, even if it is on your driveway or in your garage. A few seconds is all it takes for a thief to steal your van.
Don't leave items in view when you leave your van unattended. Always keep them away out of sight eg. in a glove compartment or under a seat. Even when you are in the van, consider these precautions as it has been known for thieves to reach through passenger windows to steal expensive items when the van is stationary. If you have a removable radio don’t forget to take it with you when you leave your vehicle. If the radio is permanently fixed, consider getting it security coded.
Take care of where you park. If you have a garage at home – use it. When you are away from home try to use secure car parks. If this isn’t possible, avoid leaving it in back streets or quiet areas because these are ideal working conditions for a thief. If you have to leave your van outside at night, always try and park it in a well-lit and busy area.
Don’t forget to remove all keys from your vehicle. Never leave your key in the ignition when the van is unoccupied eg. at a petrol station, even if it is only for a few seconds.
Consider fitting even basic physical security measures. A steering wheel or handbrake lock will deter thieves. Better still consider fitting an engine immobilisation system, an alarm, or both.
Many vehicles are taken after the keys have been stolen. Avoid leaving your jacket or coat unattended with your keys in your pocket, even for a few seconds. Avoid leaving your keys in your business premises or in your home where they could easily be seen by a thief or where they could be stolen through your letterbox.
For further details visit www.royalsun.com.