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The Great White Van Mystery

criminal record pardon
by SS&SS

Article by Lyall Cresswell

It seems that the humble “white van man” is being targeted by something other than just the clichéd humour of every amateur comedian from Lands End to Loch Laxford. In a strange turn of events, in recent months one suburb in London appears to have fallen prey to a mysterious gang of thieves with a distinct penchant for a particular brand of van!

In a spate of robberies, over a period of three weeks seven vans of identical make and model were taken overnight. The vans in question were Mercedes Sprinters – the crème de la crème of the “white van” and a very popular choice for businesses undertaking delivery or self employed courier jobs. Good taste aside, the question is why the sudden rise in this sort of vehicle crime at all? Why not a nice tasty sports car or an easy to hide nondescript family sedan? Well here are a few fairly (or barely!) credible theories about what might be contributing factors to the intriguing Great White Van Scam – you decide!

Too Clean a Machine?

All the vans were taken from residential addresses, suggesting that they were probably owner-driver’s vehicles used for delivery or self employed courier jobs. Now, recent research has shown that the poor old white van man has been given a bit of an unfair reputation as someone who neglects maintenance or mechanical upkeep until the only thing holding their van together is the rust and the dust! In fact, surveys suggest, the average self-employed van driver is a house-proud creature, who spends more time on the care and professional appearance of his vehicle than any other sector of the driving community. So – are these guys making their vans just a little too tempting for the predatory van thief? Are their admirable attempts to bust the myth of the “dirty van” man in fact now working against them?

A grim procession towards recession?

Another theory put forward is that with the downturn in the economy, some disillusioned souls desperate to work are taking matters into their own hands and simply stealing the vans in order to make a living. Although it may seem a tad far fetched that someone would risk jail and a criminal record just to earn a few quid doing some sly self employed courier jobs, it appears some voices of authority consider it to be a distinct possibility. Obviously, to take on some of the better paid owner-driver jobs one needs to be an owner of a van as well as a driver – and in some cases the maths just doesn’t add up.

As well as the van itself, the tools and electronic equipment which come as part and parcel of any self-respecting owner-driver set up, make for a pretty impressive haul on their own. Sat Navs, mobile phones, laptops and power tools account for just some of the thousands of pounds worth of gear that has gone missing along with the vans.

Spare part mart

While some of the vans have disappeared without so much as a grease spot, a few have been recovered – albeit minus most vital parts of their mechanical anatomy. So the last and possibly most feasible theory, is that the thefts are part of a well-oiled (pardon the pun) spare parts re-sale ring. There is any number of online websites selling cheap, genuine van parts of dubious origin and, just as many backyard dealers who have no qualms about passing on dodgy parts to turn a profit. Often times it is more lucrative for a crook to strip a van completely and sell it off part by part than as a whole, and it makes tracing the source almost impossible.

About the Author

Lyall Cresswell is the Managing Director of Courier Exchange, the world’s largest neutral trading hub for the Sameday courier and express freight exchange industry. Over 2,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading self employed courier jobs and capacity in a safe ‘wholesale’ environment.

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