Almost half of all vans operated by small businesses in the UK are damaged by criminals each year.
And more than half a million small businesses operating vans fall victim to vehicle damage, costing the industry £620 million per year, according to insurer Royal &SunAlliance.
The firm says up to 13 per cent of all business vehicle claims are caused by crime such as theft and malicious damage, with the average claim costing around £3,000
Chris Wallace, director of small business at Royal & SunAlliance, said: '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.'
R&SA has compiled a list of simple measures which you 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.
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 leave items in view when you leave your van unattended. Always keep them away out of sight e.g. 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.
Don't forget to remove all keys from your vehicle. Never leave your key in the ignition when the van is unoccupied e.g. at a petrol station, even if it is only for a few seconds.
Consider fitting even the most basic physical security measures. A steering wheel or handbrake locking device will deter thieves. Better still consider fitting an engine immobilisation system, an alarm system, 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.