By Scott Chesworth, operations director, RAM Tracking

Recent research by the SMMT has discovered that the demand for light commercial vehicles (LCVs) grew by 4.7% in April 2019 alone. This could be down to a desire to have more low emission models in fleets or perhaps because of the boom in online shopping and self-employment.

Unfortunately, this increase in the number of van users could mean a spike in van crime follows, with criminals wishing to profit off the current desirability of new vehicles. However, investing in tracking systems and dash cams could offer a solution in preventing and resolving such crimes.

Climate change is a hot topic, and after the recent introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), a growing number of businesses are looking for ways to be more environmentally friendly in preparation for future Clean Air Zones (CAZ). Many new LCVs have lower emissions than other fleet vehicles while still having the space to fit equipment or packages, making them a popular choice.

As well as this, since 2010, online sales have increased from 6.5% of total retail sales to 18.6%. This has likely led to an increase in demand for smaller delivery vans, further explaining the growth in sales.

However, these new vehicles could become targets for criminals. Vans can be a significant investment for businesses, making a spike in the level of van crime a major issue for fleet operators.

Many trades rely on vans for their day-to-day business. As well as getting employees to customers, vans can contain valuable tools and equipment that are needed to carry out daily jobs. For delivery drivers, replacing packages could be difficult or even impossible, leaving customers without their items. When a van is stolen, it impacts companies in a variety of ways, whether that be business-wise or emotionally.

The insurance process from replacing vans, tools, and goods is not always straightforward, leading to large amounts of time and money being lost while the business runs below full capacity.

For smaller fleets especially, van crime can hugely impact productivity levels. Without the vehicles and resources necessary, jobs might have to be cancelled, causing a decrease in profits and even irreparable damage to the business’ reputation. In addition, unless the full insurance amount is received, purchasing a new vehicle, tools and equipment can be a large financial hit.

However, inconvenience and cost are not the only issues. The entire process can cause a great amount of stress for fleet operators, as they see their business struggle without the correct resources.

Fleet operators that have purchased – or are thinking of purchasing – new vans, should consider investing in tracking systems. As well as being a preventative measure, tracking systems can also help recover vans that have been stolen. The trackers tend to be discreet, allowing them to go undetected by thieves and lessening the chances of tampering and vehicle damage.

The GPS technology contained in vehicle trackers is accurate to within a few metres, improving the chances of police being able to find the stolen van before it is sold on. Many tracking providers have mobile apps or online portals that allow operators instant access to the whereabouts of their vans, as long as they have an internet connection. This ensures action can be taken quickly, no matter where the manager is.

Acting quickly is essential in the recovery of stolen vans. The less time it takes to be reported, the less distance the criminal can cover. Even if the criminal were to make their escape, if the tracking device is not removed, the van can be located wherever it may end up.

As well as tracking systems, dash cams can also act as a deterrent for thieves. Similar to the way CCTV makes potential thieves think twice about targeting a certain house, the presence of a dash cam can halt criminals in their tracks. Plus, if a thief fails to notice the camera, the footage recorded can help fleet operators in being awarded the full amount of insurance when they claim.

The increase in van registrations is a positive sign that many businesses are doing well, even in a difficult trading climate. However, to ensure their investments are safe, fleet operators must look into improving their security measures and cutting-edge technology, such as vehicle trackers. This can help them keep their business trading and their vans on the road.

For more information: RAM Tracking