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Van crime 'ignored by manufacturers'

Ian Yates, van product manager at Lex Vehicle Leasing, which has a fleet of 17,500 vans, is urging van manufacturers to take security more seriously.

He accuses them of treating security devices as a luxury rather than a necessity which can save huge sums of money in reduced insurance premiums alone.

Mr Yates, who praised Ford's new Transit as one of the few examples of a van with car-like security levels, said: "It's time for van makers to take as much time and trouble over van security as they have over car security.

"Items such as visible VIN, deadlocks and engine immobilisers should feature as standard equipment on all vehicles, not just passenger cars."

In the past nine months Lex had 44 vans stolen. It estimates that each van costs on average £10,000 to replace, with this figure doubling by the time the load carried is taken into consideration.

Mr Yates said: "Those 44 vans stolen will have cost the fleet manager/insurance company in the region of £1m to replace, and that's without taking incidental costs such as hiring in a van to replace the old one.

"Many fleets are either self insured or insured on a third party basis, so the cost of replacing the vehicle comes directly off the company's bottom line.

"Even if they are insured against fire and theft, a purpose built vehicle with lots of specialist equipment may take two or three months to replace.

"On a positive note most companies are now more switched on to taking out goods-in-transit insurance, so the cost of replacing stolen or damaged loads are covered."

The Ford Transit's security features include a locking bonnet, glass that is bonded directly to the chassis, eliminating the need for rubber seals, and a remote locking system that can control the cab and load area separately.

This feature is especially useful as it means it can be locked even when the rear of the van is being loaded or unloaded.

"It's these type of features that we expect to see as standard equipment on vans in the near future," said Mr Yates. "We believe the big test will be when the likes of the new Vauxhall/Renault product is launched next year.

"If these manufacturers do not install security measures to their newly engineered vehicles it will set a precedent for other makers, and it might be another three or four years before we see them."

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