Commercial fleets are being urged to share vehicle and tool theft data to create a new police-backed national database that aims to crack down on organised crime.
TVL Security, a van security specialist, has worked with National Business Crime Centre (NBCC), which is owned by City of London Police, to create a new online community, called Tell TVL, that can collate van theft data and share the information on regional hotspots and break-in methods with fleet managers and police departments across the UK.
TVL has committed to Tell TVL’s services always being available free.
The project is also backed by trade bodies Logistics UK and the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA).
Fleets with vans that store tools are the main target, with thieves looking to steal and sell whatever they can get their hands on as quickly as possible for the highest return.
Laura Moran (pictured), TVL Security managing director, said the only way this new online community and database will be a success is if fleet managers engage and share their data, including any historical theft data they may have.
“Police databases are organised regionally so there isn’t a true national picture of the scale of the problem,” she explained. “There also isn’t a standard way to capture details of van crime including methods used to gain entry, so drivers and owners don’t currently know what to look out for.”
Moran says new methods of attack spread quickly and organised crime gangs even have online video tutorials on how to break into vans.
“Gangs are also distributing templates on where to attack locks to gain access,” she added. “Unfortunately, vehicle crime is linked to the economy and, given we’re currently facing a cost-of-living crisis, we estimate tool theft will increase.
“We’ve already had reports of vans being attacked in broad daylight and in supermarket car parks in the middle of the day.”
It’s too early to report stats from Tell TVL as it launched this summer, but the intention is that geographic hotspot data and figures will be shared with the community in the near future.
Moran said fleets should still report the crime to police as the first step, but then head to www.telltvl.co.uk to add more granular detail. This includes images, vehicle make, model, registration and all the incident details.
This data is consolidated and shared with the NBCC and distributed to the UK’s 43 police departments as deemed appropriate.
Tell TVL is backed by the police, the NBCC and the Home Office and is hosted in partnership with the International Security Register (ISR).
The ISR guarantees data provided won’t be shared with anyone except the police. While part of the drive behind Tell TVL is to help paint a national picture of the problem of van crime beyond anecdotal, the latest data from Logistics UK’s November 2020 Van Security Report shows there were 28,717 incidents of van contents theft in 2019 and 11,729 incidents in the first six months of 2020.
Tools accounted for two-thirds (66.7%) of all thefts in 2019, with £549 the average cost of contents stolen per van.
The NBCC’s own Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the Metropolitan Police shows there was £43 million worth of tools stolen across London in 28,338 cases between January 2019 and the end of April 2021.
Paul Fagg, a Met police sergeant on secondment to the NBCC, has helped assist TVL with this project. He told Commercial Fleet: “The Home Office raised van tool theft as an area of concern so we approached the Builders Talk Group to find out how bad the situation is.
“We’ve put an action plan together and part of that is around making sure we have the data to drive intelligence and get the right resource around a response.
“If we don’t have the crimes reported and the right data it can be difficult to assign the right level of response.”
Fleets that sign up as a registered Tell TVL user will gain access to free monthly reports and can also be alerted to new attack methods and trends.
TVL Security will be at Fleet & Mobility Live (FML) in October to share more about Tell TVL.
The NBCC is also running a crime prevention roadshow from September where van fleets and tradespeople can mark their tools for free.
To find out more about FML and/or register interest click here.
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