Has your van been broken into? Are you concerned about the possibility of having tools or other valuable items stolen from your van?

If so, van deadlocks - alongside other measures - could offer effective protection against theft. Here's your complete guide on how van deadlocks work.

Man loading tools into van

According to a survey by iCompario of 1,000 UK van drivers, 62% of respondents said they had been a victim of van-related crime. And Metropolitan Police data showed a 62% rise in tool thefts from vehicles across the first three quarters of 2022 - amounting to 34,712 incidents.

With this in mind, the prospect of suffering a break-in is a major anxiety for van owners, as well as those who use company vans for their day-to-day jobs.

Enter: the van deadlock.

How do Van Deadlocks Work?

One often-touted solution to van theft is an 'aftermarket' van deadlock. These are specialised van security locks that protrude into the door frame and can only be unlocked with a key.

As keyless systems become ever more commonplace, this more traditional - if heavy-duty - locking system demonstrates that newer technologies do not always provide the most effective solutions to everyday challenges.

Courier van being loaded

Why are van deadlocks important for security?

On a regular van without a deadlock, it may be possible to prise open a door with a screwdriver or similar tool, which may take just a few seconds. It's also possible to break a window (if one exists), reach in, and unlock the door from the inside. But with a van deadlock installed, such activities are considerably more difficult.

The mere presence of a deadlock may deter a would-be thief (particularly a visible, surface-mounted version).

Additionally, van deadlocks are usually designed to be anti-pick and anti-drill.

Don't new vans come with deadlocks fitted?

No, most new vans do not have factory-installed deadlocks, which may be surprising since van theft is such a worry for buyers.

However, there is a large industry supplying aftermarket security locks for vans.

Adding this security measure is a prudent step.

Which van doors are suitable for a deadlock?

Deadlocks are commonly installed in the sliding and rear doors. However, these van security locks are also available for driver/passenger doors.

Van sliding door locks

Deadlocks can be fitted to sliding doors as well as rear doors.

You might choose an internal deadlock, or a surface-mounted deadlock - which will be immediately apparent to thieves and will hopefully dissuade them from attempting a break-in.

Person changing drilbit

Can you install a van deadlock yourself?

It is possible to fit a van deadlock yourself.

While it requires planning, time, and effort, it will save you money.

Tools and equipment required:

  • The van deadlock(s) and instructions.
  • Drills and cutting tools to create a gap for the locking mechanism and doorframe hole.
  • A file for evening the edges.
  • Masking tape to protect paintwork.
  • A pencil for marking out lock positions.
  • Anti-rust solution for the rough metal edges.
  • Silicone to waterproof any gaps.

Benefits of a professional installation

The easier - but more costly - option is to pay a professional deadlock installer to fit the lock. This will ensure the task is done correctly and swiftly.

If you do it yourself and the installation goes wrong, you may end up calling one anyway.

Steering wheel security lock

Other van security systems and tactics

There are many additional ways to help keep your van secure. These include:

  • Fitting an alarm.
  • Fitting an immobiliser.
  • Fitting a GPS tracker (these can be fitted to the van and to tools).
  • Steering wheel lock.
  • Catalytic converter lock.
  • Parking in more secure/public locations.
  • Removing tools and valuables from your van overnight.
  • Ensuring you lock your van even when leaving it for a short period.

What are van slam locks?

A van slam lock can be integrated with your existing locking mechanism. It locks shut automatically when the door is slammed closed.

It could be a useful option for those who leave their van unattended for short periods - such as delivery drivers.

However, deadlocks are a more secure option, since they have a separate mechanism and cannot be opened from the inside. Of course, you can install both - which means there are two locks to get past, thereby increasing security.

What is an anti-peel kit?

An anti-peel door keeper kit helps prevent a 'peel and steal' attack. This is when a thief places pressure on the door from above and ‘peels’ the door open wide enough to steal any items inside.

An anti-peel plate reinforces the door so it is nearly impossible to peel down. These often include hook locks which click into place when the door is shut, adding another level of security.

Will installing a van deadlock reduce my insurance premium?

Most insurance companies will offer a discount if you fit additional locks such as a deadlock. However, it's important to read the terms and conditions of any prospective policy before you take it out.

Should I get a van deadlock?

Any van can be the victim of theft when left unattended. Fitting a van deadlock - alongside other van security systems - could be a wise move if you live in a high-crime or urbanised area, or if you do not have off-street parking.

For those who live in quieter, more rural areas, or with off-street parking, a deadlock may seem like an unnecessary expense. But do remember that whenever you leave your van, it could be the target of thieves.