The beginning of 2012 has seen some of the highest rates of van theft – in many different guises – that we’ve seen for many a year. As much as we keep blaming austerity measures for driving opportunist thieves to even greater measures, there has got to be a point where we say enough is enough.
Tradesmen and women are seeing their once cheap van insurance premiums rocket as claims for replacement tools, damage to windscreens and locks – even whole exhaust systems – have seen van drivers blow their no claims bonuses in the recent spates of nationwide criminal activity.
One such victim of the exhaust thefts, where the catalytic converters are being whipped from vans up t’north to be sold for cash in London to escape the threat of the Low Emission Zone, is GeoPost, the company backing logistics firms DPD and Interlink, amongst others. They’ve had between fifty to sixty cats half-inched, according to one recent report. They are also a company who have decided it’s costing them too much in man-hours and claims against their fleet van insurance and decided to do something about it.
In light of no one else coming up with suitable ways to stop these gangs other than advise customers to make sure their vans are locked away securely coupled with GeoPost’s belief that both van manufacturers and the authorities have been worryingly slow in reacting to the crime wave, they have designed their own innovative lock systems..
Firstly, they had the problem with thieves drilling through the rear doors of parked vans – even in broad daylight – and making off with the parcels. That issue was resolved by making one type of new lock, before the thieves moved on to gaining access in the same way but through the side doors. Again, the company has van courier insurance but, when it’s customer’s products on board, there can be an element of doubt as to the value and there is also the reputation aspect to think of, especially with volume of repetitive encounters that GeoPost has suffered.
But it is the catalytic converters that have been the real issue, albeit compounded on top of the spate of drill thefts. One of the best ways to get the cheapest van insurance is to pay higher excess. Given the volume of thefts that GeoPost has suffered, even though the £2,000 approximate value of a re-fitted cat has been covered by the insurance, the excess they’ve had to pay out of their own pockets towards that figure has been extensive and expensive.
They think they have finally cracked it, with a new bonnet lock that will stop thieves gaining access to the cats that really are creaming the fleet budget. We’ll wait and see if this new lock catches on – if so, they may be able to market it and make some of the money back on the ever-increasing van insurance premiums that have taken a such battering this last year.