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Secret tips to make sure thieves won’t steal your RV

Each week in our Sunday newsletter we list stolen RVs (and only the ones we’re made aware of – we’re sure there are dozens, probably hundreds, more). We’re hopeful that someone out there will spot a missing rig and call the authorities. A reader recently asked us to offer some tips about securing our RVs so that our rigs won’t end up on the “Stolen RV” column. So, let’s take a look…

Low-hanging fruit

Thieves will most often take the path of least resistance. If one travel trailer sits completely unsecured while the trailer next to it has several deterrents to hooking up and driving off, thieves will most likely opt to take the unsecured rig.

The longer it takes for the thieves to break in or hook up your RV, the greater the chances they’ll be caught. Many professional thieves can make off with an unsecured fifth-wheel RV in less than one minute. They simply hook their own truck to your RV and off they go. If you have one, two, or several theft deterrents in place, thieves will look for an easier/quicker rig to take.

Visible deterrents

Here are some things you can do to deter theft. Thieves will see the measures you’ve taken and hopefully move on to an easier target. Remember! One deterrent is good, but more is better.

  • Leave the leveling jacks down and lock the outside bay that houses the control levers. This means a would-be thief will need to break into your rig’s basement to access controls, and then retract the jacks to drive off with your trailer. It takes valuable time to do this. Even if you can access your leveling jacks from the exterior of your rig, it will still take time for a thief to raise the jacks and drive away.
  • Use wheel stabilizers or chocks between your rig’s tires like these. Secure the stabilizers with a lock. Yes, a well-prepared thief can probably cut through the lock, but it will take time. This precious time opens the opportunity for other campers to notice and alert authorities.
  • Wheel boot locks (like patrol officers sometimes use to render a vehicle immobile) can also deter an RV thief. These are usually made of thick steel and are difficult to dislodge. Here’s a good one to use.
  • Fasten hitch locks to your rig.
  • Fasten a lock bar on your motorhome’s steering wheel.
  • Install an entry touch keypad like this top-rated one for keyless entry into your RV. Do not share the code!

Invisible deterrents to RV theft

Would-be thieves won’t be able to see the following precautions, but these preventive actions are still very effective.

  • Install a home security system in your RV. Many security packages feature cameras, motion sensors, glass breakage monitoring, and more. If your system comes with a security badge, be sure to post it where thieves will see it. Maybe they’ll move on to a different RV if they know you’re watching them remotely.
  • Ask your mechanic to install a hidden switch that will disable your rig’s ignition.
  • Change the locks on your basement storage compartments. An experienced thief may pick the lock, but at least s/he won’t simply use a “master key” to get inside! (It’s estimated that as many as 90% of all RV storage compartment keys are identical.)
  • Put a loud-sounding alarm on your RV door(s). If thieves break in, everyone in the park will hear it! This one requires no tools for installation.
  • Consider placing some unique identification on your RV roof. Thieves won’t see it, but a highway patrol helicopter will.
  • Install a vehicle tracking device. If thieves snatch your rig, at least it can be tracked by authorities and hopefully returned to you.

Common sense prevention of stolen RVs

There are several additional actions you can take to prevent thieves from stealing your rig or its contents. Many of these actions are simple, basic precautions.

  • Lock all entry doors when you’re away from your camper.
  • Pull blinds down if you plan to be away for a while. This will keep valuables out of sight. (Note: Only pack the items you really use. Leave other valuables safe at home.) If you’re a full-time RVer, consider purchasing a safe to store your valuables. Hide the safe behind a closet wall panel or other hidden location.
  • Secure outside property like bicycles, grills, and chairs – especially during the overnight hours. Simply putting things in the RV basement and locking the compartment will help keep things safe.
  • It pays to be sociable. Get to know your RV neighbors and ask them to notify you if they see anything suspicious in and around your rig. Offer to do the same for them.
  • If possible, park in a well-lit camping spot. If you’re afraid of potential theft, keep outside lights on as a nighttime deterrent.
  • Use a dowel rod to secure sliding windows that you prefer to keep open. Lock emergency exit windows when you’re away from your RV.
  • Leave the TV or radio on while you’re away from your rig. Potential thieves may think someone’s inside. The same goes for interior lights when you’re away at night. Keep the lights on!
  • Use sites like Campground Reviews to check out any campground before booking your stay. If you feel unsafe in your RV park, make plans to leave, if at all possible.

Can you add to our safety list? How do you secure your RV?

Related:

Is your RV theftproof? Here are some tips

##RVDT1639

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Judy
4 months ago

I appreciated all the great tips in the article and comments. I use several of them and am liking the idea of something on the roof.

J J
4 months ago

If you keep a cellular hotspot in your RV, create a contact on your phone and record the hotspot’s phone number. They really are just a cell device and the cops can get the location tracking from the cellular tower carriers to find out when the hotspot checked in and where.

Gail
4 months ago
Reply to  J J

Great idea JJ. Thanks for sharing!

Dennis
4 months ago

Drive a 23 year old Class A motorhome. No one wants it.

Lil John
4 months ago

If you have a trailer, install a female plug (like the one on your truck) on the trailer and use a double male electric plug cord. When you unhitch you put the cord in the truck. Unless they have one available (not likely) they now have no lights or brakes on the trailer and no way to hook it up. I do it because it’s also weatherproof and keeps the contacts clean.

Jane
4 months ago

I really like the idea of putting a decal on the roof to help ID from above.

Alan Day
4 months ago
Reply to  Jane

I ordered a vinyl decal with the last 4 digits of the VIN in 12” red numbers, and put it in the middle of my roof. Cost $12, very visible from the air. Also have a Trak-4 GPS tracker. I sleep well not worrying!!!😊

Margo
4 months ago

On the bad off chance you rig does get taken, have some decals in the windows. Take pictures of all sides with them showing so it can be identified easily. Especially on the street side. Just a thought.

dan mckenzie
4 months ago

I installed a hidden switch on my landing gear jacks on my fifth wheel trailer plus a gps unit is hidden on the rig.

DW/ND
4 months ago

It seems a hot theft item these days is the catalytic converter. Quickly removed within 1 minute with a battery op’d saw. Some Police Depts. are providing hi heat paint and id numbers which can be engraved or applied to it. So ID’d they supposedly are difficult to sell off or fence to a dealer or junk yard or where ever they dispose of them for cash! You don’t need to wait for the PD to help out – just buy some high heat paint, put on the coveralls and goggles and mask and spray a number or address id on it. Great world – right?

Gary Stone
4 months ago

Put a cover on your RV between trips. Covers are hard to get off, even by a determined thief.

Clarence
4 months ago

I did not see any secrets.

Montgomery Bonner
4 months ago

For those with motorized RV’s and an air brake parking knob. You can purchase a device that goes over it, and locks together and cannot be busted off. The thieves would have to break off the knob to disable device, hmmm, cannot release air brake parking knob, unit aint going nowhere. Bought mine from amazon but all over the place.

David Telenko
4 months ago

On our diesel pusher, I just turn off the battery disconnect on the chassis batteries! Seems thieves are less prone to steeling diesels, don’t have any tales to tell, just hoping no one steals it, but if they do, I have it 100% insured!
Snoopy

Dan
4 months ago

If you buy a hitch lock, spend the extra $$$ and get a good one. I lost the key to the Reese hitch lock on our kids’ trailer and I really had to move it. With their permission, I hit the lock with a 40 ounce hammer. Two hits and it shattered. On my trailer I have considered cutting the hitch off of it near the end of the square tube and using a smaller square tube to telescope into the hitch and into the trailer tongue. Use some hitch pins or even bolts to tow it. If I had to park it somewhere not secure I could just remove the hitch and chains. Tada. Try to hook up to that. It would also shorten the tongue and save space in the garage.

Bob p
4 months ago

I don’t believe in the hitch lock pins as the undercut end where the locking device locks on is the weak link, a simple 3/4” piece of pipe will fit over the lock and a quick pull on the pipe will break the pin at the undercut. Remove the hitch and lock it up. I bought a 2 9/16” hitch ball, cut off the threaded stud, insert the ball into the coupler and lock the coupler. I bought a hitch lock that the locking pin goes through one side of the lock, through the coupler locking lever and into the other side of the lock and when the key is removed which is a pick resistant key there is nothing but the hardened steel body exposed. I made my safety chains removable so thieves can’t loop the chains together and hook them over their hitch ball and pull it somewhere down the road where they can work on it unobserved. Using screw type chain links reattaches the chains for towing. As the article says making someone else’s RV more attractive is the name of the game.

Scott
4 months ago

Also remove the fuse from your electric tongue jack. If they can’t lift the tongue it slows them down more.

Dana D
4 months ago
Reply to  Scott

Instead of having to crawl under my trailer to get to the tongue jack fuse, I installed a hidden switch to disable the tongue jack. Additionally, I purchased a Proven Industries hitch lock. I watched numerous YouTube videos on professional locksmiths picking various hitch locks. Many were picked with ease. Although the Proven Industries lock was picked by the locksmith, it took a lot of effort/time. The locksmith said the Proven Industries lock is the one he’d purchase. The Proven Industries lock also secures your chains.