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…
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.
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?