Forty per cent of tradespeople prefer to keep their van devoid of company name, contact details or industry accreditations, a survey of 200 trade workers across the UK has found.

Another 40% of those that don’t brand their vehicles base their decision on the fact that they have more than enough work, while 25% say they keep their van brand free for fear of being targeted by thieves.

The survey, undertaken by ECIS, an employee benefits, tradesperson and van insurance provider for the construction sector, highlights the risk workers face from having their tools stolen.

New van registrations increased by 22% in April 2015, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, a statistic ECIS says is a sure-fire sign of recovery in the construction sector. This brings the number of vans currently on the road to about 3.5million, automotive services provider RAC says.

More than half (53%) of general builders questioned for the survey don’t brand their vans. In contrast 83% of roofers were happy to advertise their business across their vehicle, exploiting the free space offered by their vehicles – the largest percentage among any trade questioned.

The trade profession most often citing theft as a reason for keeping a van brand free was heating and ventilation contractors, followed by plumbers and electricians.

All contractors questioned said they were worried about the risk of theft  with good reason it would appear: 31% of those that took part in the survey have had their vans broken into, with 42% of electricians and 30% of heating, ventilation and plumbing engineers a victim of attempted or actual theft.

Less than half of electricians (48%) and plumbers (46%) nonetheless do not remove tools from their van at night.

Phil Scarrett, sales and marketing director for ECIS said: “For tradespeople their van really is more than just a vehicle. It is a portable office: somewhere they eat, do business over the phone, relax and sometimes even sleep. Given how vital the van and the tools they carry are to tradespeople’s livelihood, any steps to reduce the risk of theft are worth taking, but going ‘brand free’ means tradespeople are missing out on an easy opportunity to promote their skills and trade association membership.

“Simply emptying the van of essential tools at the end of the shift is worth considering, particularly as our own research has found that the average claim for theft from a van is £5091. While insurance cover will provide some protection, there is the excess to consider, along with the inconvenience of having to quickly replace tools. It’s a hassle the UK’s busy tradespeople could do without.”