Van theft up 45% in four years

  • Over 32,000 vans stolen in the UK since 2015/2016
  • Nearly 10,000 vans stolen in 2018/2019 – half of them in London
  • Van theft has doubled in some regions; top 10 worst areas below

VW Transporter police van

The number of vans stolen in the UK has risen by 45% over the last four years, according to research conducted by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

Using data generated by freedom of information requests to British police forces, the statistics show that over 32,000 vans have been stolen since 2015/2016, with almost 10,000 stolen in the last 12 months alone.

The research also reveals that London is the worst area for van thefts – which perhaps isn’t a shock. But you might be surprised by the second and third worst areas.

How many vans were stolen in 2018/2019?

While the year-on-year increase in 2018/2019 is 4% up from 2017/2018, the rise in van theft since 2015/2016 is staggering.

Since that time, 32,056 have been stolen across the UK.

In fact, the figure could be higher, as of the 47 British police forces polled by VWCV’s freedom of information request, only 42 responded.

How many vans were stolen last year?

In the 2018/2019 period covered by this research, 9,371 vans were stolen in the UK.

That’s nearly 10,000 people who likely had their livelihoods severely disrupted by criminal activity – before you’ve even considered the impact of theft from vans, rather than of the whole vehicle.

Which areas are worst for van theft?

Over half the 2018/2019 total number of van thefts was recorded by the Metropolitan Police, with 4,777 commercial vehicles reported stolen in the London area.

That’s a 15% increase over the previous 12 months.

West Yorkshire showed the next highest number of stolen vans (931), followed by the West Midlands (409).

It’s not all totally bad news, though, as figure for the West Midlands is actually a 73% reduction over 2017/2018, when 1,505 vans were stolen.

Where is van theft on the rise?

The biggest increase in the number of stolen vans in 2018/2019 came in Leicestershire, where the 377 van thefts represented a 10-fold increase over the 40 stolen in 2017/2018.

Over the same period, van thefts in North Wales have doubled, while in Essex they've gone up 70% and in West Yorkshire 67%.

What can be done to prevent van theft?

That’s a big question, and there are no easy solutions.

Physical deterrents include fitting an up-to-date alarm and immobiliser system (very few van makers fit an alarm as standard across the range, even on new vans – though VW points out it does offer good value Business Packs on entry-level models that include one), using security film on glass and adding additional locking mechanisms.

Parking in well-lit areas, preferably in sight of CCTV, is also recommended, while a tracking system can give constant peace of mind that your van is still where you left it.

As ever, try and avoid leaving anything inside the van that you can’t afford to lose.

Worst 10 areas for van theft in the UK according to police statistics

Area police force Vans stolen 2017/2018 Vans stolen 2018/2019 Difference
Metropolitan Police 4,137 4,777 +15% 
West Yorkshire 557 931 +67% 
West Midlands 1,505 409 -73%
Essex 228 387 +70%
Leicestershir 40 377 +843%
Hertfordshire 206 253 +23%
Derbyshire n/a 229 n/a
Surrey 210 208 -1%
Avon and Sommerset 166 193 +16%
Sussex n/a 181 n/a

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