Keeping your RV safe from theft
The very nature of travel leaves your RV at risk of theft. Thankfully, there are things you can do to minimise the possibility.
Sadly, RV theft seems to be on the rise. These days, it’s not uncommon to see a post on social media titled ‘RV stolen’, ‘Reward for stolen caravan’ or ‘Have you seen this caravan?’ Theft imparts a significant burden on owners, both financially and emotionally, so it pays to be extra vigilant with security. Here are a few ways to soften the blow and minimise the risk.
INSURE YOUR RV AND CONTENTS
Just like your home, your caravan needs full protection including contents cover. Should your van become the target of organised crime, no amount of anti-theft deterrent goodies will save your bacon – but good insurance will! Read the fine print carefully relating to contents cover, as there are limitations. Some policies simply don’t provide any cover, while others stipulate items must be secured, with cover only provided if there is evidence of forced entry. This may mean your Weber baby Q and beer fridge left in your annexe might not be covered.
Historically, we’ve been extra vigilant with keeping gear locked away, even going as far as securing two canvas zips on a doorway with a small padlock to resist opportunistic theft. Nothing a knife through the canvas wouldn’t fix, but the goal is to make it that much harder.
OUT OF SIGHT
Laptops, tablets, phones, cameras, fridges and personal belongings are prime targets for thieves. Don’t think just because it is inside your RV or vehicle that it’s safe. Thieves have been known to enter RVs and vehicles while the owners are otherwise occupied, even just for a few minutes – swimming, at the amenities, or otherwise distracted. Some have even swiped the car keys from inside the RV to clean out the car as well. Surprisingly, many of the thefts I’ve heard about have occurred in caravan parks and not in the middle of the bush, so you can never be too careful.
When touring, we often lock our valuables in the rear drawers of the car and keep our keys with us. This keeps valuables out of sight and also secure. The same goes for leaving valuables around your campsite. Generators and solar panels are easy pickings for a thief. Remember that insurance cover? No sign of forced entry, no cover!
MAKE IT DIFFICULT
While tow hitch locks and wheel clamps are available, there are other strategies that can make removal difficult, such as parking the van so the drawbar is difficult to access. You’ll need to massage your van into position in the first place, which imparts a degree of effort on your part, but that’s the price of added security.
Some manufacturers offer small, lockable, hidden cupboards for valuables. You can also purchase an RV safe to install yourself. These are made of solid steel and can be mounted inside a cupboard or under the bed.
ALARM AND IMMOBILISER
Just like a car alarm, you can also get your RV protected by a similar system. One such system called Find and Follow, can track your RV’s movements using the web and SMS messaging. There are many other similar systems.
VIN NUMBER PROTECTION
The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) should be stamped on the drawbar and engraved on the compliance plate. Thieves will endeavour to remove these identities in order to re-sell the RV. Recording these numbers in various spots around the RV can help police identify the owner, should it ever be recovered. This type of recording should be etched or written using a permanent marker.
STOLEN CARAVAN REGISTRY
These types of online registries increase the chance of recovery, particularly if shared across social networks.
As much as it’s painful to be vigilant in these ways, security of your van and personal items is paramount for your ongoing travelling enjoyment. Always lock your RV and vehicle and keep your personal items out of sight, because it only takes a few seconds and it’s gone!
See you on the trails.
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The full feature appeared in Caravan World #550 April 2016. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!