A new campaign has been launched because industry advice on mushrooming thefts does not go far enough to stem the black market demand for the units, according to fleet management firm Masterlease.
Working in co-ordination with new police initiatives to combat the problem, Masterlease says thieves will stop at nothing if they suspect retrofit sat-nav is on board – even to the point of looking for the ’sucker’ marks on the windscreen left by the cradle.
Gavin Jones, head of risk management at Masterlease, said: ‘Courier vans are particularly vulnerable as integrated sat-nav on these vehicles is not an option so they have to have conspicuous retro-fit.
‘There are a growing number of these drivers in urban centres and many even leave the units in full view when they nip in to make a delivery to a business.’
Many police forces have reported between 500% and 1,000% increases in sat-nav thefts.
The current industry advice is to remove sat-nav units and cradles and put them out of sight in gloveboxes or under the seat.
Masterlease is advising van drivers to also remove all visible signs and take the units and cradles out of the van when parked – and even wipe away signs of the sucker mark on the inside of the windscreen.
Jones said: ‘It’s not enough to remove the unit and hide it elsewhere in the vehicle along with the cradle as we have heard of incidents where thieves have targeted vans because of the sucker marks left on the windscreens by the cradle. Carry a cloth and some windscreen cleaner with you at all times because if an opportunist suspects you’ve got a unit hidden in the vehicle, you are a legitimate target in their eyes – in fact the sat-nav system becomes a gift for the second time in its short life.’
Along with the police, Masterlease is calling for a meaningful dialogue with the sat-nav manufacturers about alternative and less conspicuous sat-nav attachments.