The Met are warning truck and van drivers to be on their guard when they pull up in lay-bys for their cup of boiling coffee and bacon sandwich as thieves have moved up a gear in their skulduggery and found an unlikely way of committing daylight robbery.
The result for drivers is having a terrible effect on their livelihood, their reputation and, long-term, van insurance. First and foremost, everything that has been taken has to be replaced. Secondly, whatever job they are working on they are unlikely to be able to complete and potentially let down their customer.
But thirdly, having to explain to their van insurance provider that they were robbed whilst they were having a cup of tea is making it hard for the fleet insurance brokers to swallow, sometimes rendering their claim useless.
This is purely down to the nature and simplicity of the crime. Using a camouflaged door in the side of the van, the gang monitor Britain’s A and B roads and occasionally motorways waiting for the opportune moment to sidle up to the side of parked up van and extract the contents whilst the driver’s enjoying breakfast or, for long-distance drivers, taking a nap in their cab.
This is bad enough for the trauma that an individual working for an employer will go through, reporting the robbery to the boss.
However, it is having a devastating effect on tradesmen who are working for themselves; having to replace their whole business can be a hard enough concept to comprehend but, in this economic climate, it can be the final straw for some sole traders who may not be in a position to replace the stolen goods if the van insurance company will not pay out against their existing policy, if they have not taken out sufficient cover.
Generally, the contents of a tradesman’s van will need to be insured over and above the base policy. If, in this instance, they have not taken out the extra ancillary cover, they will lose everything.
Police have issued an overview of the make-up of the crimes. Generally, the gang, dubbed the “Pirates of the roads”, broadside curtain-sider vans, but not exclusively canvas-sided trucks, slash the sides in silence, and make off with whatever they can slide in through their camouflaged side door.
The police are taking this seriously and have nicknamed the seconded the swashbuckling unit in charge of catching these gangs “Truckpol”, also asking other drivers to report any van that they see with a concealed side door, whether they are acting suspiciously, or not.
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