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Any driver van insurance holders should beware of a haunting new development in the world of van and tools theft: the remarkably effective skeleton key that is so easy to obtain that it can be bought by even the least sophisticated internet-literate thief. And in even more haunting news, the key retails for just £20.

Reports of the skeleton key's availability may help explain why there has reportedly been a surge in van and tool thefts across the United Kingdom in recent months, with one broker releasing data that reveals tool thefts to be up 30 per cent in England, Scotland and Wales.

News of the skeleton keys' involvement in thefts reached the public through two West Yorkshire builders who set up a social media page devoted to the topic. They were then interviewed by the BBC and told the news organisation that police had informed them that there had been a whole series of thefts believed to be attributable to the skeleton keys.

However, one of the builders said that police failed to properly investigate the theft of tools from his van. "They gave me a crime number and that was it really - forgotten about," said the man. "They said ‘it's a builder's van, there'll be no fingerprints, get yourself to work.'"

The skeleton keys are a standard tool for locksmiths; however, many within the profession have called for their sale to be better regulated.

"These are legitimate locksmiths tools," commented Steffan George from the Master Locksmith Association. "But they shouldn't be available to everyone. We would welcome a restriction of their sale."

It is also thought that skeleton keys could be leading to heftier insurance cost per theft. One broker said that it had recently witnessed a 40 per cent growth in the average value of any driver van insurance claims made for van break-ins.

Until more regulation is brought in to restrict the sale of the skeleton keys, any driver van insurance holders will just have to remain vigilant by ensuring that they lock their vans, park them conspicuously, and remove their tools from their vans whenever possible and that they always do so overnight.