With tool theft continuing to destroy the hard work and livelihoods of trade professionals, we quiz Yorkshire-based plumber Mike Horsfall about the alarm system he’s devised to help protect tools from opportunistic thieves.
Q. Why is van security an issue that is close to your heart?
Van security and tool theft in the construction industry is a real and constant problem. If you’re in any kind of trade you will, I’m sure, have been affected by tool theft, or at least know someone personally who has.
It is devastating, particularly for a self-employed sole trader like myself who may have spent years building up a variety of quality tool. One morning you can come down to find your van door open, the contents gone and nothing left but the thought of what it will cost to get back on your feet. This is what happened to me.
Q. Where did the original idea for the Van Guardian come from?
In 2017 I decided to look at van crime from a totally different perspective: from the roof rack/pipe carrier down. I started to develop a solution, with the initial concept of alarming my un-alarmed pipe carrier to stop thieves from targeting copper pipe.
It was obvious these unalarmed treasure troves were soft targets, drawing the wrong kind of attention to my van in the first place, so it seemed a good place to start. After nearly two years in the development process I finally had a prototype design that I could patent and trademark – Van Guardian.
Q. How does it deter would-be thieves?
Van Guardian activates on contact, providing an 110dB audible alert to thwart the actions of thieves, prevent criminal damage and ultimately protect your tools and assets from potential theft.
It can be used to protect any number of commonly targeted ‘at risk’ zones on and around a vehicle. From the pipe carrier, to prevent copper pipe theft (in my case), or roof rack to protect ladders and assets, to the back door and side door of the cargo areas of a van or truck.
Q. How does it work?
It uses, at its core, highly responsive tri axial accelerometers to detect minimal contact, and with highly efficient microchip technology we’re able to program it to ignore the rocking from strong wind. Each unit has seven levels of ‘fine tune’ sensitivity for the end user to adjust, to tackle individual levels of exposure and the worst of heavy rain conditions to eliminate false alarms.
It’s important to note at this stage, that when I did my research into van crime it was obvious there were small pockets of organised criminal gangs who would stop at nothing to break into a van to get to its contents. What needs to be clear is that there is literally no alarm or lock upgrade that will deter this level of determined attack.
Q. Can van owners fit it themselves?
Van Guardian was designed with the end user in mind. The simple installation procedure means your vehicle needn’t be off the road or out of action. There is no additional installation cost, no awkward drilling of your van and no complicated wiring loom to install.
The unit, once armed, protects itself and will trigger a two second alarm warning upon sensing any unsolicited attempted removal. It will then activate a 30 second alarm if the action continues.