How to defeat RV burglars

16

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 a thief 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 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.

##RVT812 ##RVDT1366

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16 Comments
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Marvin
3 months 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.

TravelingMan
3 months 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 :;

Eddie
3 months 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.

TravelingMan
3 months 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.

Options:
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 months 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.

TravelingMan
3 months ago
Reply to  Judy S

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

http://www.ravelcodfw.com/

Most cars and trucks: $549

Imports and larger trucks are more. See link.

Patricia Panuccio
3 months 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.

Gale
3 months 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.

tom
3 months ago

9mm or 20 gauge, your choice.

Gene Bjerke
3 months ago
Reply to  tom

How does that deter a burglar when you are gone?

TravelingMan
3 months ago
Reply to  Gene Bjerke

It certainly will while he’s there.

Jim I
3 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
3 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’ . . .

Paul
3 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.

Barry
2 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.

Wolfe
3 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