Revealed: the UK’s biggest van theft hotspots 

  • Van theft in Cambridgeshire is up 103% – the biggest rise anywhere in the UK 
  • Almost 15,000 vans have been stolen in the UK over the last two years 
  • Expert offers advice to tradespeople on how to protect themselves from van theft 

New research has revealed the UK’s biggest hotspots for van theft, with some regions seeing the number of offences more than double year-on-year. 

The study, conducted by IronmongeryDirect, the UK’s largest supplier of specialist ironmongery, issued Freedom of Information requests to police forces to discover how many vans were stolen in 2020 and 2021. 

Cambridgeshire is the UK’s biggest hotspot for the crime, with a 103% increase in van theft over the two years. The number of trade vehicles stolen rose from 68 in 2020 to 138 in 2021. 

Cumbria isn’t far behind, with offences doubling over the time period from 15 to 30 (100%). 

In fact, almost two in five (38%) police forces saw increases in van theft between 2020 and 2021. 

Over the two years, 14,919 vans were reported stolen across the UK, with an average of 466 per police force. 

However, as many crime reports fail to specify the type of vehicle, this figure could be even higher. 

Almost half (46%) of the total number of offences were in London. In 2020 and 2021, 6,839 incidents of van theft were reported to The Metropolitan Police Service. 

To help tradespeople protect themselves from van theft, IronmongeryDirect has partnered with Dan Powell, motoring expert at Desperate Seller, to offer security advice. 

Here are Dan’s top three tips: 

1) Park in well-lit, highly trafficked areas 

“This can often be the most effective deterrent as it makes a discrete getaway extremely difficult. If it means paying a little more for parking or walking an extra few minutes to your destination, it’s a lot less effort and cost than the alternative.” 

2) Secure your spare wheel 

“Spare wheels are often unscrewed and stolen without the van owner’s knowledge. Once you’ve checked that you still have yours, make sure it’s secured with a wheel lock. There are inexpensive products on the market that can save you the hassle of being caught out.” 

3) Make sure you have insurance 

“Most importantly, it’s always worth having adequate van insurance in case of theft or damage. Ensure the insurance policy includes tools and equipment left in the van overnight. Not all insurance products will provide this, and if you need to leave valuables in the vehicle, it’s essential to make sure they are covered.” 

Dominick Sandford, Managing Director at IronmongeryDirect, said: “Sadly, van theft is a common problem across the UK and offences can have a devastating impact on tradespeople, both personally and professionally. 

“Our research has revealed which areas are seeing particularly large spikes in cases, but you need to be careful wherever you live, and that’s why we’re working with experts to share their top bits of advice on how to protect yourself.” 

For more expert security advice, and to see where tool theft is most common across the UK, read IronmongeryDirect’s Trade Theft Report 2022 here:  

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