Tuesday, October 3, 2023


How to help defeat would-be RV burglars

[Editor’s note: This is a rerun, but the information is still relevant. We have retained the previous comments, which have many very helpful safety tips.]
By Bob Difley
RVers, and especially boondockers, take safety seriously. We tend to camp out in the hinterlands, often far from any possible response from law enforcement and well beyond the possibility of an RV burglar being caught in the act.

Safety can be broken down into two issues: personal safety and protection from burglary. Here I will offer some ways to deter or prevent the chances of break-ins when you are boondocking and away from your rig – auto touring or going to town for supplies, for instance.

You can take some basic security measures to thwart any but a dedicated thief, which you are not likely to run up against. For instance, did you know that many RV storage compartments have the same locks, which can be opened with any key with the CH751 identity? Check yours. If that’s what you have, change your locks.

Additional easy security considerations include:

  • Close blinds and drapes when you’re gone so the curious potential RV burglar can’t see what you have inside.
  • If you don’t have an electronic security system, pick up a small red LED light and mount next to your entry door controlled by a switch on the inside. When you go out, turn it on – its power requirement is negligible. It looks like a security system is turned on.
  • Do not leave anything valuable like a portable generator outside if you are going to be gone long, unless it is secured with a heavy-duty chain.
  • Don’t tell strangers in town where you are camped.

Most thieves are products of opportunity – when it is easy for them to take something.

Keep your valuables out of sight and follow these few pointers – removing the opportunity – and it will  prevent most grab-and-run thieves.

Editor: For more information about “How to make your RV compartments more secure,” watch this short video by the late Gary Bunzer.

You can find Bob Difley’s RVing e-books on Amazon Kindle.


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1 year ago

To learn how worthless most locks are at deterring thief, watch videos by Lock Picking Lawyer and Bosnian Bill. Though you are unlikely to find a coke head doing anything beyond a smash and grab type crime, people that steal big ticket items as part of their living do have lock picking skills and tools.

They will defeat things such as Masterlocks attached to a big heavy chain, in under 10 seconds. You do not even need tools to defeat most combo locks.

These were just about the only reasonable priced locks that were not total fails:

combo lock
Abus 190/60CS series 2

keyed locks
PacLock series

Many criminals that steal trucks and cars, now have jammers that will defeat cellular based alarms. If someone puts an air tag or tile tag on your vehicle, I would hazard a guess they can pick easy locks and have jammers.

I use to sell a few decades ago, a hydraulic brake lock (URL was brakelock) with locking key. That was effective.

1 year ago

Outside of these discussions of RV safety: I have safety in place for my devices in the form of VPN. Why do I have to turn off my VPN on RVTravels to open links, pages and to enter review replies This defeats my whole security concern.
Thanks, in advance!

Kim Christiansen
1 year ago
Reply to  R.C.

We get this one a lot. Because we’re a huge proponent of using a VPN, but only when on a shared/public network.

VPNs secure connections over public/shared networks and hide where you’re location (Though location hiding is of limited use).

However, the ability to hide your location is also used by attackers against our site. SPAM/SCAM attackers use VPNs to hide where they are to get around country blocks we have in place.

As part of combating these attackers we have had to banning several VPNs IP addresses from commenting on RVtravel.com. Your VPN was likely by attackers.

You can try the following things:

  1. If you’re on a private network (Home/Office internet or WiFi hot-spot) turn off your VPN. Your connection to RVtravel is already secured via SSL.
  2. If you’re on public or shared WiFi, disconnect and reconnect your VPN to see if you can comment now.
  3. Try a different VPN provider.

I use Nord and BitDefender VPNs with no problems.

Hope that helps,

1 year ago

Regarding Storage door locks, we found it very inconvenient to have different keys for the slam locks as well as the ever popular CH751 key on our 5th wheel. After a little research I found that RVshop.com offers almost every type of lock used on RV’s that can be keyed alike to the entry door lock. Now we have 1 key for the entry, slam and barrel locks. Easy to install and more secure.

Bill Fisher
1 year ago

A couple of months ago I installed an Optimus GPS Tracker in our Montana fiver. It’s hidden away and online via its own cellular connection 7x24x365 and wired into 12vdc and our lithium batteries are kept charged by several hundred watts of solar. Our trailer is kept in a supposedly secure storage yard, but if the sensor senses any movement I get an immediate alert on my phone. Even a drop of half way on one of the exterior slam latch doors will cause an alert. If someone should hook up and steal the trailer I can track it on a map in real time. I am not affiliated with Optimus, just a satisfied customer.

Bob p
1 year ago

I installed motion detector floodlights on each side of the RV, not only is it a theft deterrent but it helps me if I have to work or check on something. I also discourage theft of the entire unit by installing a high security lock on the hitch lock that can’t be attacked with bolt cutters. I use a 2 5/16” ball with the thread cut off inside the hitch coupler, my safety chains are removable and reattach with 5000 lb rated safety links. It’s not theft proof as nothing less than Ft.Knox is, but maybe my devices make someone else a more likely target. The dead ball keeps the thief from dropping the hitch coupler onto a 2” ball and driving away, the missing chains prevent the possibility of looping the chains over a ball a slowly driving to a less obvious location to do their dastardly deed, the high security lock could be defeated by a grinder or a sledgehammer either of which makes a lot of noise. The lights also scare animals from coming around.

3 years ago

When you’re talking to people, even other RVers, don’t tell them you’re a full-timer. This indicates that your entire life is in your rig.

3 years ago
Reply to  Marvin

I Like your thinking… 🙂

1) Keep valuables in a fire-proof safe you purchase and store at a family member’s house if you can. This way, if you need an important document, you can have them get it to you securely (i.e. passports, car/RV titles, SS cards, loan documents, medical records, etc.). We also keep pictures stored electronically there. If there is ever a fire or accident, we have a backup copy. We would also keep an electronically protected copy of our multiple passwords stored. Electronically, it provides protection from family unless there is an emergency.

2) Or in a safe deposit box (just remember that if the bank defaults, you’ll loose access to that vault for a LONG time).

3) A small storage facility can also work for larger items but remember that is a long-term cost that has to be budgeted for.

Another separate but equally effective idea is to lock down all of your credit. If anyone gets access to your information, it’s going to be harder for them to gain access to additional credit. Contact all three credit bureaus.

And for all of your electronic accounts, ensure you have double identity verification for access. It makes it a pain to get into your own accounts but is worth it.

For credit cards, have your accounts set up to notify you for all purchases. That way, you’ll know when someone makes a fraudulent charge right away.

For anything you HAVE to keep on board, find creative ways to hide them. Search the internet for creative ideas. I can’t share ours :;

1 year ago
Reply to  Marvin

Absolutely! You don’t know who they may tell who may tell someone else and on it goes until it gets to the “Wrong” person(s)!

3 years ago

I agree that most thefts are crimes of opportunity, grab and go. I installed a fake video cam above the RV entry door (class c).

I also like the kill switch concept for serious criminals that may search out certain chassis models they are familiar with and specialize in. I will invest in one of those.

I also have a Velcro tape strip mounted above a primary side window.
If I’m going to be gone after dark I will attach a battery powered motion detector light on it when I leave. It’s just about the “startled” effect, no thief wants a light surprise.

1 year ago
Reply to  Eddie

Good ideas!

3 years ago

Obtain the following for a hard-wired system (wireless systems are also available):

A Honeywell (or equivalent) Ademco Vista 15-P Security Panel
A Security Battery – 12VDC / 5 Amp backup. (I would also suggest the alternative of connecting it to your RV battery bank)
A 6160 Ademco Alphanumeric Keypad ( I recommend the 6460S. It’s much better aesthetically. It programs the same).
Honeywell Ademco 702 Horn
Door Contacts (you will need a Normally Open configuration)
#16 AWG Security / Speaker Wire (Class 2 or 3) – TIP: Buy a 500′ roll. It’s cheaper that way
#16 AWG 2-blade spades
Depending on routing of the wire, you may need a few small junction boxes for splicing
You will need a 120V outlet near the panel to plug in the 120VAC to 12VAC transformer
You will also need some misc aluminum brackets to mount the contacts on.

A panic button for the bedroom and/or living room
(4) Exterior Blue/Red LED Flashing Lights
A 12V relay that will energize the external LED lights that illuminate the night sky around the RV
(4) or (6) 12V LED External White Lights (or use LED bar lights)
A vent cover to camouflage the alarm horn
A wireless key fob to turn on and off the alarm when you leave (It can also be done at the panel)
A motion detector for the interior
A strobe light for the interior

You can do a basic set up for about $650.

You can zone the different doors or just make one zone. The programming is pretty easy once you understand them but they are a nightmare to figure out. You won’t necessarily need end-of-the-line resistors unless you want to have the system monitor the devices. They will come with the Vista Panel so you won’t need to order them.

The way we look at it:

It’s just like your home when you full time. It’s a piece of mind while boondocking. It might not stop the thief from coming on in but you will at least gain a few seconds to grab that 9mm or shotgun laying beside the bed while they are surprised by all of the lights and horns (and they WILL be surprised). Any close neighbors will certainly want to know what’s going on and may call police. They will see all the Red/Blue LED’s and lights come on and hear a loud horn. Its a personal choice but I prefer a short barrel Remington 870 12 gauge pump with more than the standard 3 shots and buckshot is best for close quarters. The 9mm is a backup. Generally speaking, the shotgun requires no license of any kind.

It could also help deter a bear or other critter that might come knocking or roaming around the campsite.

While your away, at least the crooks may consider running away with all of the alarm going off. Maybe not all, but at least most.

Consider a lock on the pin box or trailer hitch.

Consider a kill switch on any motorized vehicle.

You can also tie in smoke detectors as well.

Some may consider all of this overkill. I respect that. I consider it cheap insurance. We have nothing worth taking but don’t like surprises either. Just like at a sticks-and-bricks home.

As time goes on, I don’t see things getting better before they get worse…

Judy S
3 years ago

If you have a class B or C, you might check out an ignition interrupt from Ravelco. Similar to a kill switch, they claim not one vehicle stolen by defeating it in 40 years. Even mechanics at the dealership can’t find it and any attempt to disable it also disables the ignition.

I paired it with a Drone/Compustar security system, too much to explain here. My logic is that video can be grainy, dark, or otherwise not get an identity, and I’d rather deter the theft than get my house back vandalized or stripped.

3 years ago
Reply to  Judy S

Pricing in the Dallas/Fort Worth (Texas) area:


Most cars and trucks: $549

Imports and larger trucks are more. See link.

Patricia Panuccio
3 years ago

I have spent a lot of time and money on the inside of my older class A and left the outside looking like an old RV’ I travel alone and have never felt threatened because it doesn’t look like I have anything to steal but on the inside, I have every bell and whistle I desire.

Dana Eulert
1 year ago

Great idea! Reminds me of this old SNL sketch! https://youtu.be/T7QFcBxxSK4

Mary Hazel
1 year ago
Reply to  Dana Eulert

That is soooo funny! My 84 Toyota Dolphin RV…maybe I should stop stressing about outside! Am considering kill switch however

1 year ago
Reply to  Mary Hazel

Funny stuff!

3 years ago

When out touring in your car don’t leave your Campground tag hanging on your rear view mirror. It’s a pretty good indication to unsavory folks that no one is home at the coach.

3 years ago

9mm or 20 gauge, your choice.

Gene Bjerke
3 years ago
Reply to  tom

How does that deter a burglar when you are gone?

3 years ago
Reply to  Gene Bjerke

It certainly will while he’s there.

Jim I
6 years ago

Don’t be fooled into thinking a campground with manned entry gate and security fence will protect you either. While in Homestead Fl at Goldcoasters RV campground, we left our bicycles out only to have them stolen from someone who drove in late at night and exited a little while later. The guards at the gate said they aren’t paid enough to try and fight thieves.

Tommy Molnar
6 years ago

I think most thefts are from ‘thieves of opportunity’, not pro’s. Nothing we do will stop pro’s, but these tips will thwart most otherwise honest folks from grabbing tempting goodies. Just sayin’ . . .

6 years ago

Great topic. I would add that it’s not just the content of the RV that thieves are interested in. Around here, there has been a spike in RV thefts. Especially high-end 4 season units. A hitch lock and changing your keys (so they can’t easily access your leveling jack/landing gear controls) are a great start but I would be interested in any ideas on further protecting your unit.

5 years ago
Reply to  Paul

Paul, we just got hit last week at camp. They busted the window to get in to the rv, they also broke both outside compartment locks. They popped them right in and did not damage anything except the flange of the locks. Thankfully we had our electric Jack’s down and electric slides out. They could have got the Jack’s up. But the slides are on a control board with a password. Glad we set up a password…. That was the only thing left.

6 years ago

Those CH751 locks are really easy to replace — just a screw and threaded nut behind the lock. Combination locks are $3 online, and here’s a video of how to install them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45hW3IaRNjg

1 year ago
Reply to  Wolfe

Most compartments can be pried open with a large screwdriver,no need for a key, causing an expensive repair. The doors and frame are not very strong. Scare lights work well, but only at night.
One other solution is to wire a 12 volt siren inside the compartments and use magnetic door/window switches to activate it. And a hidden switch somewhere on the outside to turn it on and off. I have one in my shed at home. Open the door and get blasted with 120db siren.
As far as the fake security camera, Buy a trail cam like hunters use and mount it in an inconspicuous place on the outside, a nearby tree, pole or under the awning. They are motion sensing and have night vision. They don’t stop a break in, but you will have video proof of the thief.

1 year ago
Reply to  Bob

Even if you have video of the thief, it is still hard to put a name to a face unless their photo and id are in the police database that has facial matching capability.

1 year ago
Reply to  Stephanie

The video and/or photo from security devices will add to the law enforcement database if not there already.

Kevin Pilant
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephanie

Place a picture on Facebook looking for the name of the theft. Honest people who know them and give name for police.

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