Apart from your home, your truck is probably your most valuable possession and vulnerable to theft. Losing a food truck due to theft is not only a financial setback (even if you have insurance), you won’t be able to earn a living while you wait for a replacement vehicle either. Don’t let this happen to you!

This article has been prepared to raise industry awareness of motor vehicle crime and to provide information for food truck owners on ways to improve mobile food vehicle security. To help understand the theft prevention options, we spoke with Lyle Clark from ConcessionLocks.com. The company has a 15+ year track record of protecting trailers of all kinds, including concession units.

How To Protect Your Mobile Business From Food Truck Theft

Vehicle thief profiles

Understanding who and why individuals steal food trucks is an important first step in stopping them. Here are main three types of thieves who steal food trucks:

  • The opportunist thief: Frequently labeled as “joyriders”, they look for vehicles to use as a means of temporary transport. The stolen vehicle is normally abandoned the same day.
  • The professional thief : This criminal intends either to keep the truck or sell it for profit in an altered condition. The vehicle may be stripped, rewrapped, modified and resold with changed VIN numbers and registration plates.
  • The property thief: This criminal is not interested in stealing the truck itself, but is after any property or kitchen equipment that isn’t welded in place.

There are two goals these burglars have when targeting a food truck. Those that want the contents of the vehicle/trailer (harder to trace), and those that just want the trailer and dump the contents. No matter the goal, both results can devastating to a small business owner.

Protect your food truck from theft

Your basic goal is to make your vehicle a tough target and encourage the thief to move to an easier mark. Remember, the more time the thief is forced to take to steal vehicle, the more likely they’ll be caught. Don’t make things easy for the bad guys.

Clark suggests adding equipment that draws attention to your vehicle in the event of a break in. Flashing lights and sirens are a good best practice to prevent crimes of opportunity. Another best practice is posting signs around your vehicle mentioning the property has 24/7 video security system.

Here are some helpful suggestions to prevent food truck theft:

  • Lock your truck. Approximately 50% of all vehicles stolen were left unlocked. Don’t become a victim of opportunity for someone else.
  • Take your keys. Nearly 13% of all vehicles stolen had the keys in them.
  • Never hide a second set of keys in your mobile kitchen. It may seem like a good idea, but thieves know all the hiding places.
  • If you are not required to park in a commissary parking lot, park in well-lit areas. Over half of all vehicle thefts occur at night, and thieves don’t like the spotlight.
  • Never leave your truck running unattended, not even if you’ll only be gone for a minute. Vehicles are commonly stolen at convenience stores, gas stations and ATMs. Many vehicles are also stolen on cold mornings when the owner leaves the vehicle running to warm it up.
  • Don’t leave valuables in plain view. Why make your truck a more desirable target to thieves?
  • Park your vehicle with wheels turned toward the curb. Some thieves use tow trucks to steal vehicles, so make your truck tough to tow away. Wheels should also be turned to the side in parking lots so the vehicle can only be towed from the front.
  • Since most food trucks are rear-wheel drive, back into your parking spot. Rear wheels will lock when parked making them difficult to tow. Front-wheel drive vehicles should be parked front-end first.
  • Always use your emergency brake when parked. In addition to ensuring safety, using the emergency brake makes your truck harder to tow.
  • Never leave the registration or title in the truck. A thief will use these to sell your stolen truck. File the title at your home or office and carry your registration in your purse or wallet.

Enhanced security devices

Food trucks can also be protected by the anti-theft devices which will slow down or stop thieves. As mentioned earlier, the more time a criminal spends attempting to steal a vehicle increases the likelihood of discovery and arrest. The following are some of the different types available that can be fitted to your vehicle:

  • Ignition cut out switch
  • Fuel cut out switch
  • Steering wheel lock
  • Transmission lock
  • Wheel lock/boot
  • Lockable fuel cap and wheel nuts (fuel and wheels are frequently stolen)
  • Vehicle Alarm System

Compared to other locks on the market, the security products from ConcessionLocks.com locks are larger and protect more than other options on the market. Compare the options. As far as alarms, most vendors aren’t even aware there are alarms out there for food trucks or trailers, so it’s not on their radar.

Clark also suggests painting the roof of your trailer as a way to identify the unit in the event it’s stolen. The bad guys usually don’t check the roof of the vehicle and the marker can be used to identify a vehicle if its stolen. Thief’s can paint a trailer a different color in less than 30 minutes. The same goes for vehicle wraps. This can be a key identifier to provide law enforcement that isn’t easily removed.

The rapid growth of the mobile food industry has come with an increase in the numbers of food trucks being stolen. Motor vehicle crime is a serious problem and, apart from the general inconvenience or costs for a replacement vehicle until insurance payout, the loss can be a traumatic experience for the owner. We hope food truck owners find this article useful and follow these tips.