Methods for van security: physical security vs simple deterrents

Cross-Guard’s security grilles fitted into a van

Just about every van owner keeping or transporting valuable and expensive equipment within their vehicle will come up against the same issue. If you want to leave items in your van overnight, or during other periods you’re not close by to keep an eye on things, there’s the chance a criminal will break into your vehicle to steal tools and equipment. Not only do you need to then foot the bill for replacing stolen items and the costs involved in damage to your vehicle, you also must account for wasted time and potential loss of business.

So, what are some of the best ways to secure your van? Should you look at a physical security device or upgraded doors and locks, or are security alarms enough? We review some methods for van security below and the benefits and drawbacks.

Security alarms: standard security

Security alarms are standard practice when it comes to van security and relatively inexpensive as it’s rare they’re not already fitted within a vehicle. They do work as an effective deterrent since a burglar’s main goal is to commit a crime quickly without drawing unwanted attention. The noise generated from an alarm puts pressure on the thief to make an even speedier getaway and can attract the attention of anyone nearby. This means anyone witnessing the event may intervene or call the police with an accurate description of the criminal.

For something less intrusive, you could consider perimeter alarms when your van is on your driveway overnight. You can get the alarm to send notifications to your phone rather than emitting an actual sound. This is useful as you have the chance to deter the intruder by alerting neighbours, putting on lights or making noise, and calling the police.

Limitations of security alarms

Despite being a relatively cost-effective option, alarms do have a lot of drawbacks. If faulty, they are unreliable and can cause unnecessary noise disturbance or nuisance. People are accustomed to hearing alarms even when a crime isn’t taking place, so they often choose to ignore the sound, assuming it’s a false alarm.

Although perimeter alarms are less sound intrusive, they can be equally unreliable. An animal can trigger your perimeter alarm, or strong winds can cause other items to drift onto your driveway.

You must exercise caution with any type of alarm. If an alarm alerts you of a crime, you should phone the police immediately and analyse the thief to ensure you can provide details of their appearance when questioned. Although it can be tempting to do so, never directly confront or show aggression towards a thief. They could be hiding a weapon you’re unaware of and, at the risk of sounding cliché, your tools and equipment can be replaced, but you can’t put a value on your life.

Other potential deterrents

In general, deterrents are less costly than implementing physical security barriers, but are not necessarily more effective. Some simple measures you can take to prevent tool or equipment theft include:

  • Opting to only have a van rear door (not a side door) and parking the back of the van flush against a gate or fence so the thief would struggle to get behind
  • Parking in a built-up, well-lit area or near CCTV cameras where there’s potential for the thief to be seen and caught
  • Using stickers on your van to declare nothing is left in overnight, even if this is not the case (although be careful with this measure, sometimes it can have the opposite effect and thieves will assume you’ve only added the sticker because you actually have something valuable stored inside your van)
  • Reducing visibility of what’s in your van by using tinted windows and not having a screen at the back of the van

Physical security barriers for protection of tools and equipment

There are items you may want to consider as physical security add-ons to your vehicle, but first you should think about the type of security you receive when you buy the van. When you’re initially shopping for your van, don’t just think about aesthetics, think about practicality and security features. Is the van built to be strong and sturdy, and to withstand attack?

In addition, you can always install other physical security measures. Below is a short list of ideas for security add-ons, by no means comprehensive:

  • Enhanced locking mechanisms
  • Lockable toolboxes
  • Van Grille Pro (Cross-Guard’s new security grille system)

The top two items on the list are straight-forward and self-explanatory. The third item – Van Grille Pro – is a leading solution that has only recently been introduced to the market. The solution consists of a system of CX2 retractable security grilles which automatically lock when you slide them shut. These grilles are certified and resistant to a wide range of tools.

Advantages of physical security barriers over deterrents such as alarms

Certain physical security measures not only provide physical barriers, but they can also serve a dual purpose as a deterrent. For example, part of the Van Grille Pro system also includes a warning label (a deterrent) for application on your van to show thieves the system is in place. The Van Grille Pro system also makes a lot of noise when a thief tries to attack the grilles, serving a similar purpose to an alarm.

Limitations of physical security measures

Physical security measures have a great number of advantages when compared to just a basic alarm system, but it’s important to note that if a thief wants to gain access so badly, it’s possible to break past even the most effective barriers with the right tools, time and dedication. However, physical barriers extend the attack time needed by a thief to gain entry to a vehicle, increasing the risk of the them getting caught, stalled or startled by someone in the surrounding area. The criminal will also need to invest in more expensive tools to attack the van as standard tools may prove ineffective.

Hopefully, this article has provided useful information to help you protect your van and keep your tools safe and secure. If you’d like any further advise, or if you’re interested in our Van Grille Pro system, you can contact us by calling 01724 709 722 or emailing


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