Van locks explained: which locks work best

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Image of a van lock on a grey van.

Van theft, notably of contents, is increasing. Criminals find new methods to access vehicles, despite manufacturer efforts to improve security. 
However, you can fit extra security to keep yours secure. Below we discuss the pros and cons of different van locks and how they help.

We'll discuss:

What are the different types of van locks?


A deadlock is a mechanical lock fitted to a van door. It's key-operated and engages a bolt into the opposing section of bodywork. 

It's generally intended for cab doors rather than load area doors. It adds security to the manufacturer's lock, making forced entry difficult for criminals.

Slam lock

Slam locks give extra protection to the load area doors by locking them automatically when you close them. It needs a key to open it. Slam locks are ideal for couriers or multi-drop operations where you may accidentally leave your van unlocked between deliveries.

Hook Lock

Hook locks fit on the side and rear doors, and the driver manually operates them. High-quality materials make up the hook and the slot it engages; extreme force is unlikely to result in the criminal compromising the lock and gaining entry to the van.

Unlike slam locks, you need to operate them manually. A hook lock is more suited to those who want to secure a loadspace when parked.

Statement Lock

Deadlocks, slam locks and hook locks look subtle. Statement locks are a more visible deterrent. It's fitted to the door exterior and acts as a brace between the doors (if applied to twin rear doors), protecting them from being opened until it's released.

You can fit the lock to a side-loading door, connecting the door edge to the van's body. When fitted to the upper or lower part of the door, this can help to prevent the door panel from being pulled back to gain entry.

Lock Shields

Lock shields prevent forcing a lock open. By surrounding the lock with a heavy-duty steel plate, it's protected from attack, which could result in a thief gaining entry to the cab or load space.

They're custom designed for each van model, adding additional protection to an area where manufacturers have often been accused of providing inadequate security.

Upgraded, replacement locks

At least one major van manufacturer has had negative customer feedback regarding the security offered by their standard locks. Specialist suppliers can supply upgraded replacement, high-security locks more resilient to being picked or forced.

Anti-Peel kits

Anti-peel kits prevent 'peel and steal' theft. 'Peel and steal' is where the criminal will typically pull the top or bottom corner of a side loading door, bending it back far enough for them to gain access to the load space. The theft causes severe damage.

Specialist companies such as Locks4vans are now designing solutions which should help to protect the van from this sort of attack.

Fitted to the inside of a side door close to the top, it engages automatically without driver intervention, securing the entrance to the van body. An alarm goes off if the door corner is pulled as little as 3mm out.

Specialist Locks

Some locks are specialist, protecting against issues like catalytic converter theft and roller shutter locks on Luton and box vans.

Do additional locks improve security?


However, you may need to invest a lot of money upfront. You must balance this against the disruption, financially and to your business, should you lose your tools, equipment or van.

It's important to remember most thieves are opportunists; even if your van is empty, this doesn't guarantee someone will try a 'peel and steal'.

Do additional locks make van insurance cheaper?

There isn't a hard rule on this.

However, you should always inform your insurer about vehicle modifications, even if they're helpful.

How to improve van security

Upgraded van locks aren't the only way to improve van security:

  • fit an alarm, preferably Thatcham-approved
  • use a steering lock 
  • always monitor where your van keys are
  • park your van in a public place rather than out of sight
  • remove all your tools from your van every night 

Having van insurance can also help you recoup costs after damage or theft.

I started my career selling vans in the mid-eighties, progressing through dealer groups to management level. In 2010 I joined vehicle valuation company CAP, being made responsible for forecasting future used values for all makes and models of vans and trucks, this data being used by leasing companies and manufacturers to assess future risk. This role entailed very early exposure to new models including extensive testing across Europe.

In 2016 I started up my own consultancy business dedicated to the LCV industry. In addition, my freelance written work has been used by a number of clients and I am a regular contributor to WhatVan? magazine. I’m also a judge for their annual ‘Van of the Year’ awards.

To relax, I enjoy travel and walking near my Yorkshire home.

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