Friday, June 2, 2023


Prevent thieves from stealing your generator


By Russ and Tiña De Maris

If it’s December or thereabouts, you can be sure that there’s plenty of RVers boondocking on the desert near Quartzsite. And you can also bet good money that the local police agency will be investigating reports of stolen generators from some of those same boondockers. Just what can you do to keep somebody from running off with your generator?

lock-764For years, RVers have been cooking up their best practices for deterring theft. One of the most typical approaches is the “chain and lock” trick. A heavy chain wrapped around the generator secured to, say, the RV’s axle. Add a hefty lock, and that oughta keep the crooks at bay, right? Sad to say, chains and locks are quickly nullified with the use of a hefty bolt cutter. A couple of snips, a grab, and your generator is headed down the road.

Others suggest a different but related approach. Instead of using a chain that can be quickly snipped with a bolt cutter, substitute a multi-strand metal cable. Indeed, trying to chew through a wire cable with a bolt cutter is akin to taking after my wife’s BBQ ribs that she famously does in the microwave. OK, used to do in the microwave. Anyhow, it’s just a tough, too-time-consuming process.

Well, one RVer visiting Quartzsite tried just that approach with a so-called Snip-Proof cable. One night, over a half-dozen generators vanished from the desert – including the one with the unsnippable cable. Police speculated that the crooks used a diamond cutting wheel on a cordless tool. Call it the great Honda Sayonara.

Since Honda generators seem to be particular targets of crooks, Honda now has an “accessory” anti-theft bracket available. It bolts over the plastic Honda 2000 handle, which precludes crooks from simply making a quick cut or two through the handle and running off with the generator – leaving chains or cables intact. Well, as some have suggested, why doesn’t the company simply make these “standard equipment”? Good question, but even so, the determined crook can still whip through your chain or cable as we’ve already discussed.

SO WHAT’S THE ANSWER? Alternative suggestions include motion-sensor equipped artillery, chains – not on the generator – but on large dogs with power jaws, perched near the generator, etc. But face it, if the crook wants your generator, and if he has enough time, he’ll figure out a way to make off with your kilowatt-maker. But like the commercial for the computer security company says, “They can’t hack what they can’t see.”

In practice, when your generator is operating, you’re probably up and around, making a sufficient theft deterrent. Granted, that doesn’t help much if you’re running the generator on a hot summer day and trot down to the store for a quart of milk. Plenty of RVers have found their generator vamoosed while away for less than a quarter hour.

But when you’re not running it, perhaps the best way to protect it is to hide it. It’s a pain in the neck to be sure, but we keep our generator tucked away in our truck canopy. With obscured, smoke-glass windows, it’s extremely difficult to see – if not impossible – in the dark of night. Other RVers actually stick their generators inside their RV at night, close to the door, but out of sight. Still others are known to somehow maneuver their tow vehicles up and over the top of their chained or cabled generator – making it extremely hard to physically get at the generator.

Until someone comes up with a thief-proof generator protection system, or all the crooks are gone (whichever comes first), your best generator protection system is probably to make it invisible.

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Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.


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4 years ago

You are 100% wrong about substituting “multi-strand wire cable”, aka wire rope, as a bolt-cutter resistant alternative to chains. As a crane service technician, I can personally attest that every one of my service techs carries bolt cutters in his toolbox for the express purpose of cutting wire rope. It is actually easier than cutting chain.

tom edelman
6 years ago

Also put a lock on that spare tire under your rig. We had ours stolen somewhere in the middle of trek across country. I stopped at a Chevy dealership in Ca. to find the cost of a new 8 bolt 19.5″ – parts person handed a quote of $666.43 for the steel wheel only.

Ralph Cox
6 years ago

If you use case hardened chain, even a diamond blade will have a hard time getting through it. Bolt cutters are absolutely useless with case hardened chain. You can get it at McMaster-Carr.

6 years ago

My generator has multiple bolted connections. Nothing is completely theft proof. I figure on making it difficult to steal. I figure if I can easily cut something with one of my battery powered cutting tools, then a determined thief could too. My husband worked in home security for a while. Good security systems operate on attracting attention (sirens) and time consuming complexity. Most thieves are opportunistic. If it’s sitting out in the open, unattended and unsecured, then you are “just asking” for whatever to be stolen to a thief. And the RVers of today are not the RVers of 35+ years ago. They steal now and the thieves drive upscale RVs too. I live in an RV park on a busy highway. A few weeks ago, we were told that someone from outside the park was driving thru and stealing what ever they could grab.

Dennis Lylyk
6 years ago

Those so called uncuttable are nothing but a scam.
They easily cut with a Harbour Freight 24″ bolt cutter.
The university I worked at used very expensive cable to secure computers in student area common areas. They worked excellently for over 20 years because no one tried to steal the computers. (they wanted the mouse balls ??)
We opened a new area that was very poorly designed and easy escape route to the outside. (for the record I was not involved with the planning and design)
We too were puzzled when they were stolen “how did they cut the cables”. When we reviewed the security footage we were shocked. It appeared the guys cut them with looked like ordinary cable cutters! I took a piece of cable home with and to my surprise I could cut it like a matchstick with cheap 24″ bolt cutters. It appeared that the coating on the wire held the stands together and prevented it from flattening out. These were not cheap cables. I believe they cost us over a $100. a kit.
So the moral of the story is: Do not trust the sales claims, try cutting it before you use it while you still have the receipt in your hand.

6 years ago

I added a truck box to my rear bumper, cut a ventilation hole and exhaust port, then secured it in with a bar and chain. Out of sight, yet useable with the lid closed.

Tommy Molnar
6 years ago

I’ve always counted on my fat cable lock to keep our generator “ours”, but I can see maybe we’ve just been lucky. We’ll be headed to Quartzsite in March (like last year). Not that Quartzsite is the ONLY place to watch out for our stuff, but I remember hearing stories about thefts last year. I guess we just put our Champion genset inside the trailer when we head off in search of adventure. It’s not fellow RV’ers we worry about, of course. It’s the scoundrels out and about.

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