Detectives warn about van thefts after ‘concerning’ rise in incidents

Date published: 15 December 2021 15:19
Dated: 15 December 2021 13:55:48

Detectives from South Yorkshire Police are urging drivers to keep an eye on their vans after a string of thefts over the last few months.

Many of the incidents have involved criminals targeting Ford Transit vans specifically, with thieves most commonly using keyless methods, such as ‘relay attack’, to gain entry to victim’s vehicles.

Our Force Lead for Serious Acquisitive Crime, Temporary Superintendent Jamie Henderson, said: “To give you a snapshot of how many incidents we’re seeing, between the end of September and the middle of November, 212 offences of van theft were recorded by our team.

“This is a concerning volume, and we are doing all we can to locate and catch the criminals carrying out these crimes. However, it’s also really important that you consider the security of your van, especially if it is often left parked up away from home overnight.

“Thieves are known to target hotel car parks, as they know that many trades people who are working out-of-town are unlikely to decamp their tools into their hotel room overnight, meaning each theft is more lucrative for them. Whilst it’s inconvenient having to remove your tools, we are aware that it does sadly increase your risk of being targeted by thieves if you do not.

“Keyless van theft is exactly what it says on the tin; thieves manage to open, start and drive away in a van without needing the key. How do they do it? They clone the signal from the van’s remote key fob in a method known as a ‘relay attack’.

“This uses two transmitters which intercept then relay the signal from the key. The first transmitter intercepts the unique signal from the key, even through a house wall, and transmits it to the second unit held close to the car. This sends the cloned signal to the car, fooling the security system into thinking the key is nearby and allowing it to be unlocked and started.”

How can you protect your van?

  • Choose the right locks for your van to provide a visual deterrent and extra obstacle for thieves to overcome
  • Consider using immobilisers to prevent hot-wiring and driving off with unattended vehicles
  • Fit a vehicle tracking system to assist yourself and the police to locate the vehicle if it has been stolen
  • Be careful not to advertise what might be inside your van
  • Remove expensive tools and equipment from your vans when unattended
  • Don’t leave behind valuables or any signs of them, including satnav or phone holders
  • Never leave the vehicle’s keys in the ignition, in the same outbuilding as the vehicle, or near your front door inside your home or business
  • Think about where you’re parking – if possible, a well-lit and secure car park or driveway is the best option

Temp Supt Jamie Henderson added: “We know that van theft can have a massive impact on businesses, particularly those who operate as sole traders, and therefore we really encourage van owners to invest in protecting their vehicles.

“All of these methods help to deter van thieves and ensure your vehicle is safe from theft.”

South Yorkshire Police have produced some shareable crime prevention information which you can be saved from this page, or from social media.

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