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7 things you can do to reduce goods in transit thefts

Van loaded, seat belts on, keys in the ignition; suddenly you realise you have forgotten something. You jump out of the van, jog over to the cash and carry entrance, settle up what you needed to do, and head back to your van. And there it is, with back doors flung open, windows smashed, boxes spread across the car park and your high value stock gone.

This is what we call a goods in transit incident. All it takes is a lapse in concentration and for an opportunist to take advantage, and you could be out of pocket. We have compiled a list of tips and guidance for things you could and probably should be doing to help reduce the chances of you becoming a victim of goods in transit thieves.

1 – Be Vigilant

Try to work in twos and keep a lookout, especially when you are loading and unloading your vehicle. We find that some of our Members have been targeted because they have been followed back from the cash and carry or other suppliers. Always check for suspicious activity before and after you go to the cash and carry – you may feel this is being over cautious but it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you have to park away from your shop to unload and you have to do more than one trip to get the goods inside, it’s a good idea to have someone with you to stay with the vehicle. It only takes seconds to remove thousands of pounds of stock from your vehicle if you leave it unattended.

2 – Don’t tempt thieves

Being targeted by thieves may feel like a random attack but very often it’s not; thieves won’t take the risk of stealing stock unless they feel it’s easy or they are guaranteed to get something. The best way to protect yourself and your stock is to reduce the risk of making yourself a victim in the first place by not making it tempting for them.

Keep items out of sight as leaving them on display is just asking for trouble. Many vans have lockable, concealed compartments, but if you don’t own one and use a car instead, try to keep items well-hidden and consider tinting your back windows to stop people from being able to see what’s inside.

3 – Lock up your stock

This might be an obvious one but always keep your vehicle locked; this includes loading and unloading if you leave your vehicle unattended at any time. Always take the keys with you and make sure that all security systems like alarms are working properly.

Don’t leave stock in your vehicle for a long period of time and especially overnight, unless it is locked in secure premises like a garage or warehouse. There may be instances where you have to leave your vehicle on a driveaway or road overnight, if this is the case, make sure it is emptied of stock. If stock has been kept in a vehicle between the hours of 9pm and 6am and is stolen during that time, then your claim could be void.

4 – Don’t flash the cash

Again, this might seem like an obvious one but try to reduce the amount of money you carry with you, and where you can, pay by card. You could be a potentially easy target for thieves if they think you are carrying a large amount of cash, and many will not be shy in using a weapon to threaten you to hand over money or stock. This is why you should be wary of where you park, which leads us to our next point.

5 – Pick your parking space

In an ideal world, you would park as close as possible to the cash and carry or your premises, but this is not always possible. A lot of cash and carries, and trade warehouses, will have signs to say that customers park at their own risk, so if there is an incident, the establishment can’t be held accountable. Blind spots and poorly designed car parks can play to the advantage of thieves, who will certainly be more brazen in their approach to stealing or threatening someone if there is little chance of them being seen. You might be in a rush but sometimes it’s worthwhile waiting for a space to become free closer to where you have to go.

6 – Be aware of high-value stock

Loading up your vehicle to the point of bursting may be preferable to visiting your suppliers more often, but do be aware of the value of the stock that you carry in transit. Your van could be jam-packed, but the total value of the stock that you are carrying might only be £5,000. On the other hand, with a few high-value items such as alcohol or cigarettes, the stock value could reach over £20,000 with just a few boxes. Most insurance providers offer a £5,000 goods in transit cover limit as standard. For example, if you have £20,000 worth of stock in your van but your cover limit is £5,000, you could be underinsured and £15,000 out of pocket. It is important to check with your provider what your cover limits are and consider this when purchasing high value stock.

7 – Get goods in transit cover

At The Retail Mutual, we work with and cover thousands of independent retailers who rely on being able to transport goods in order to run their business. Whether you are carrying stock from places such as a cash and carry, trade warehouse, or stockist or ordering deliveries to be deposited at your shop, any transportation of valuables can pose an opportunity for thieves. As part of our business cover, we offer up to £5k worth of stock cover as standard which could protect you if it is:

  • Damaged in transit, either in your possession en route from a supplier or during transportation via supplier or parcel delivery service. This includes delivery via rail, sea, and air but only in the UK or the Republic of Ireland.
  • If goods are stolen from a road vehicle you own or a road hauler’s vehicle used to transport goods and stock to and from your business premises.

To make sure you are covered:

  • Ensure all windows are closed and your vehicle must be kept locked and keys removed
  • Check your alarm and other security systems in place and in working order
  • Keep the goods hidden from view
  • Your vehicle should be empty between the hours of 9pm and 6am, unless it is in an enclosed and locked premise such as a garage or warehouse

Your cover could be void if you fail to follow these conditions.

We don’t cover unattended personal effects if they are stolen or damaged, nor do we cover any damage to your vehicle as an aftermath of a theft or attempted theft as this would normally fall under the remit of your vehicle insurance provider; always check with your vehicle’s insurance provider to be safe.

Always check your cover wording to understand what is covered, what your cover limits are, and whether there are any restrictions.

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