A BLACKBURN businessman is warning van drivers about the thieves using special coding machines to steal vehicles.

Mustaqim Haji, 40, parked his Mercedes Sprinter van outside his house in Bowness Close and Peter Street on Monday night and was shocked the next morning to wake up and found it had been stolen along with £2,000 of stock inside.

Mr Haji runs Tissue Factory Limited on Pearson Street in the town but has had to hire a van just so he could meet customer demands with deliveries.

The dad-of-four said: “I went out in the morning and van had vanished.

"I checked the CCTV and saw one man come to the back of our house with a device and then walk to our van and within a minute he was driving it away and no alarms went off.

“We are devastated as this was our work van which is needed daily.

“I locked it up before I left but I have looked at the CCTV from a neighbour and it was taken at 3.32am.

“The van was a Mercedes Sprinter 2014 plate and I had only bought it three weeks earlier.

"The logbook has just arrived for it and we won’t be able to use it.

“I want to warn other Sprinter owners to take precautions as we found out over the past few weeks and months that Sprinters have been stolen all over the country.

“Our van was full of our stock so we have not only lost our van and we also have lost £2,000 worth of stock this is absolutely devastating for our business.

“I just cannot believe that it only took them a minute to steal it and I want to make sure people take extra care with their vans as we as small businesses are going to suffer tremendously after what these thieves do.”

Mr Haji thinks the thieves had a device which took a code from his key that then sends the signal to another person who can then get inside the car.

He said: “I just wish I had left it outside the house but it is wrong that these things cannot be safe at your own home.

“My customers have been ringing up to ask where their product is. I have explained to them what happened but they have not wanted to listen to it so I have had to hire a van to get them sorted.”

A police spokesman said: “We are investigating an incident where a man has reported a Mercedes Sprinter van has been stolen and he claims he had the keys with him so they have taken it via other means.

“Anyone with information should contact the police with the log number 20190312-0401.”