How to prevent theft of your work car: utes and vans

toyota hilux blue parked in front of farmyard

Danny Baggs

Posted May 09, 2023

Thieves know to target work vehicles for high-value items. Here’s how to keep your work car safe from theft.

Businesses big and small frequently rely on work vehicles for deliveries, services and transport to jobsites. Unfortunately, thieves often know how to target work utes, vans and small trucks that carry more valuables than ‘normal’ cars, such as tradie tools or expensive items out for delivery. For this reason, it’s important for businesses and drivers to be extra vigilant when it comes to car theft.

“Keeping work vehicles and tools safe from theft is crucial to protect your assets and minimise disruptions to your business,” says Neighbourhood Watch CEO Bambi Gordon. “The rise of online retail and home delivery is leading to the creation of new types of theft. As e-commerce has advanced, criminals have found new ways to exploit home delivery systems for their illegal activities.”

Here’s how to help keep your work cars safe from theft, so your business can keep running smoothly.

Top tips to keep work utes and vans safe from theft

Lock up when making deliveries

Many small business owners and delivery drivers make the mistake of leaving their work vehicle’s doors open and unlocked while dropping off deliveries to shops and homes. “Some delivery drivers leave the van running and doors opened to be able to make a quick delivery. However, an opportunistic thief may take advantage of the situation and steal packages or the van itself,” cautions Gordon.

Even if you need to make several deliveries in a row, take care to lock up your doors and ute canopy before you leave the vehicle unattended.


open ute with boxes inside

Never leave work vehicles unlocked and unattended. Image: Getty


Don’t leave valuables on display

National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council statistics reveal that there were 41,000 cases reported of items being stolen from vehicles during the year ending March 2022. Whether your work car is transporting tools, raw materials (which are in big demand with thieves) or sellable goods, never leave your valuables on display. Keep van doors slid shut, cover up ute traybacks, and consider getting windows tinted to make it harder for passers-by to see inside.

Gordon recommends taking extra precautions in case your work tools or equipment are taken. “Label your tools and equipment with your business name or other identifiable markings to deter theft and aid in recovery if stolen,” she recommends.

“Plus, keep an inventory of your gear, including their serial numbers, at a free service that makes it easier for police to identify your tools if recovered, and where you can report tools stolen so that they are not sold-on through the second-hand market.”


person closing traybed of Ford Ranger

Keep valuables kept in your ute locked out of sight. Image: Supplied


Be careful where you park overnight

It may be tempting to leave your work van parked in your driveway at night, but that makes it easy for thieves to break in, grab valuables and get out before anyone notices.

“Park work vehicles in well-lit, secure areas, such as gated or monitored parking lots, and preferably within the premises of your business or at a location with security personnel,” Gordon says. “Avoid leaving your work car in isolated or poorly lit areas that may be more vulnerable to theft.”

If you have a garage, make room to park your vehicle inside each night, or whenever you’re not working. If you can’t park your work car inside, take the time to carry your most high-value tools and other items safely inside after work.


RACV ERA worker changing a tyre on a customer's car

Here are some top tips to help prevent the risk of car theft. Image: Getty


Be vigilant about your car

Work vehicles such as utes or vans are not safer from car theft than SUVs, hatches or sedans. The Toyota HiLux, a popular work ute, was one of the most stolen vehicles in Victoria in 2021-22 according to the Crime Statistics Agency. Prices of utes such as the HiLux and Ford Ranger are currently high on the used car market, incentivising their theft.

To help avoid having your work car stolen or tampered with, always lock your car and take the keys with you, install anti-theft screws on your number plates, and consider installing car security like an alarm system or engine immobiliser.

“Use quality locking mechanisms, such as steering wheel locks, tire locks, and electronic immobilisers to prevent unauthorised access to work vehicles,” Gordon recommends. “Install alarm and other security systems in your work vehicles to deter thieves. And make sure all doors, windows, and compartments are locked securely.”


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The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit As a referrer, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s)issued by Insurance Australia Ltd, ABN 11 000 016 722, AFS Licence No. 227681.