Vocational van thefts have surged in Southern California—not for the vehicles themselves, but for the tools inside.
Los Angeles police report that since Nov. 1, 27 work vans have been stolen in the San Fernando Valley and later found abandoned with their tools missing. Thieves have been selling the stolen tools online and at pawn shops and swap meets.
“We aren’t sure if it’s the same suspect, or just a new MO shared across the crime populous,” LAPD Lt. Paul Weber, commanding officer of the Topanga Detective Division, states in a press release. “They (the vans) are found a short time later (one to three days) and usually a short distance from the crime location. That tells us the real target is the tools inside.”
Between November last year, and Feb. 1, 2017, 20 Ford Econoline, five Chevy Express, and two GMC Savanna vans were stolen and the tools removed, Weber said. All the vans were white.
Detectives recommend the following safety tips to reduce the risk of having these vans and tools stolen:
- Lock your van
- Equip van with an alarm
- Place power tools inside a locked, security container inside the vehicle
- Install a steering-wheel lock mechanism to discourage the theft of the van
- Etch ALL power tools and other tools with owner’s CA driver’s license or ID number
- Park vans inside secured structures or yards
Anyone with information in this case is urged to call Det. Brien Pogue, Topanga Detective Division, at (818) 756-3537. Anonymous tips can be called into Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or by texting 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Online tips may be placed at www.LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.