Has it ever occurred to you that someone could drive off with your rig? I has happened.
I was watching a video. In it a man was showing the modifications he made to his trailer. It was an impressive job. He refurbished the cabinets, installed new shelves, and added some storage beneath the main bed. He then opened one of the floor level cabinets. In it was a small, bookshelf safe. “Good idea,” I thought. He explained that the safe was bolted to the frame of the trailer. If someone broke in, they couldn’t just carry it off. I thought, “what if they just drove away with the entire rig?”
It can be done.
RV theft is still rare, but the occurrences of this crime are increasing. Typically, RVs are stolen from the owner’s driveway, RV service centers, or storage facilities. Even if the facility is locked, usually many people have access. If the facility has video monitoring, you get a video of someone driving off with your RV. That might help with the insurance claim, but you are still without your camper,
If Someone Takes your RV, They Get Everything in it.
Have you thought about that? It’s bad enough to lose your RV, but you also lose everything in it. People on extended trips may bring important documents like checkbooks, passports and medical records. People often travel with their computers, expensive cameras, electrical gear and other items that a thief would love to get their hands on.
The thief may get everything they need to steal your identity. Identity theft can wipe out you and your family financially. Hopefully, you have protection against identity theft.
Fortunately there are ways to thwart these thefts. Do everything you can to keep thieves from stealing your RV.
Making Your RV Secure.
The type of device that will best secure your rig depends on what type of camper you have. You want to make it as difficult as possible for someone to make off with your RV. There are no devices that will make your camper theft proof. Even with the best security devices available, a determined thief could still pilfer your rig. What you want to do is make stealing your RV as difficult as possible. Most likely, the thief will target another victim.
Locks for Travel Trailers
If you own a travel trailer, a good hitch lock will go a long way toward protecting you from losing your rig. Hitch locks fall into two general categories. One category is coupler covering locks. These make the entire coupler inaccessible. there are locks that can immobilize the release lever. This type of lock makes it difficult to fasten the coupler to a hitch ball.
Release Lever Locks
Many trailers hitch release levers can be locked in the closed position using an ordinary padlock. In some cases a padlock may not fit. You may need a special lock.
If you are using the common U-bolt padlock, make sure that both sides of the u-bolt lock. You can tell this by looking at the bolt while the lock is open. The u-bolt will have a notch in both sides of the bolt, the side that comes out of the locking mechanism and the side that remains attached to the lock. Single latch (one notch) locks can often be defeated by forcing a stiff wire between the bolt and the latch.
Make sure the lock bolt is case-hardened steel, or other hard material that cannot be easily cut with bolt cutters.
Hitch lever locks are not expensive and you should have one even if you are going to get the more expensive coupler cover lock. You can use the hitch lever lock to secure your trailer while towing. Trailers have been stolen right off the tow vehicle. This could happen while you are at a rest stop, eating, or staying in a motel.
The Coupler Cover Lock
This type of lock completely covers, or makes inaccessible the hitch coupler. This is the more effective, and the more expensive solution. If all you do is lock the release lever – which is better than nothing – a thief can still drop your hitch coupler onto a hitch ball smaller than the diameter of your coupler. It would be difficult to tow your trailer a long distance using this scenario, but they could get take your rig to a secluded place and cut off your lock.
The best coupler cover locks are steel sleeves that cover the entire coupler. They are made of steel up to a quarter-inch in thickness. They cannot be cut with bolt cutters and they use a key that cannot be duplicated. You need to know the size of your hitch it you order one of these. One size does not fit all.
Proven Locks is one company that makes coupler cover locks. Their locks retail between two and three hundred dollars.
There are cheaper coupler cover locks that will cover over the opening of the coupler making it impossible to place the coupler onto a hitch ball. The price of these locks typically range from 30 to 80 dollars, If you use one of these, make sure metal cannot be easily cut and the key is unique.
Locking your hitch is a good idea. It will make it much harder for your rig to be stolen. However, your camper is on wheels. As long as it rolls, someone can roll it away. Wheel locks can make that much harder. The wheel lock looks and works like those annoying “boots” some cities use on illegally parked cars.
The best type of wheel cover lock is the kind that covers the lugs making it impossible to take the wheel off and roll the rig away on a spare tire. A cheap version of this would be to run a chain around your camper’s frame and through the wheel. In this scenario you need to use a high quality padlock and chain that cannot be cut easily.
A lock that makes it difficult to hitch to your fifth wheels kingpin, can ensure that your next camping trip doesn’t go like Robert’s. Robert arrived at his camper’s storage facility only to find his fifth wheel had been stolen.
Prices for kingpin locks start at about $20 and can cost as much as $200 (US). A kingpin lock used along with a wheel lock (see above) would make it very difficult to steal your fifth wheel.
The theft prevention devices that are most effective for automobiles and trucks will probably also give you a first line of defense for your class A, B, or C motorhome. A combination of an engine battery disconnect switch and a wheel lock, while not foolproof would probably make stealing your rig difficult enough to make the thief move on to an easier target.
All types of RVs can be equipped with entry and motion alarms. These can also help prevent theft.
If you use an engine battery disconnect switch, keep in mind that there may be systems on your rig that are powered by the battery even when the engine is off. These systems could include your in-dash clock, on board computers and devices that have powered memory. If your rig is equipped with an alarm system, you may be disabling the alarm when you disconnect the battery.
There are also methods to make your rig easier to find should it be stolen. Think of these as an RFID chip for your RV. For these devices to work properly they need proximity to a cell phone service and/or line of sight to a satellite. They also need a continuous supply to electrical power. If that power supply is one of your on board batteries, your battery will drain out during long term storage. These are things you need to keep in mind.
Protect Your Investment and Get Peace of Mind.
While there is no device that will make your camper theft proof, there are reasonable, inexpensive measures you can take to ensure you will not find an empty space where your camper was parked.
What methods do you use to protect your rig? Please leave me a comment, I would love to discuss this with you. I am planning to post more articles on RV security including articles on how to protect the stuff in your rig and, more importantly, how to protect yourself and those traveling with you.