VAN manufacturers should do more to stop thieves from being able to break in to vehicles, an engineer who had £1000 of kit stolen has said.

Martin Browne was left with a gaping hole in the side of his work van after thieves cut away the metal and used a saw to break off the locking system.

He realised the van had been broken into when he got up for work at 5.30am and noticed cable laying on the road.He thought that it had fallen out the previous night, until he went to unlock the door and saw that the damage caused.

Thieves left with £1000 worth of heating and ventilation equipment, which Mr Browne was unable to recover. His white van is a Mercedes-Benz model and does not have a security alarm fitted.

Mr Browne, 49, from Oare, said: “Manufacturers like Mercedes should take a little bit more responsibility in putting some plating around the lock to deter thieves.

“I have now fitted makeshift alarms myself.I have had to put a steel plate near the lock and it looks a bit unsightly but it will stop them.

"It has cost me and the company I work for £1000. That is profit gone.”

The incident took place outside Mr Browne’s home in Oare between February 22 and February 23.

A spokesman for Mercedes-Benz said: “As criminal activity evolves, vehicles can become vulnerable in ways we could not have anticipated. We are working with the police, Thatcham, our Dealer Network and our customers, as well as continually reviewing our products, services and processes, to ensure that we offer the latest levels of theft prevention on our vans.”

Immobilisers are fitted to most vans to prevent thieves from being able to hot-wire the vehicle and drive it away. Mercedes Benz use Thatcham category 2 immobiliser or category 1 alarm in the majority of its cars and vans, so that vehicles only work with the correct key.