Wednesday, February 8, 2023


Fight RV crime! Install a GPS tracker in your RV—It’s easy!

The opening image is just a handful of stolen RVs we’ve posted here on in our Sunday newsletter. For every one we write about, there are probably dozens more that we don’t hear about. Suffice it to say, crooks want to steal your RV. The question is, if they do, how can you get it back? One way that can increase the odds of finding a stolen RV is by installing and using a GPS tracker. They’re inexpensive. Service fees are relatively low. And nearly any “RV handyperson” can install one in just a few minutes.

Bad guys got your rig? Tracker rats them out!

What’s a GPS tracker? Put simply, it’s an electronic device that uses the Global Positioning System to “know where it is.” Using cellular networks, it then can report its location to authorized people. Why would you want one? Install a GPS tracker in your RV, and if the bad guys take off with your rig, the GPS tracker will report where the rig is. Using something as simple as a smartphone or personal computer, you can “see” in real-time just where your RV is. Report the information to the police, and your chances of recovering your RV before serious damage can occur are increased.

There are different types of GPS trackers. There are some that, once you discover your RV is stolen, you’ll be able to access the information as to where it is. This “track by request system” will help you find your RV—but of course, you need to know it’s gone missing. Another type of GPS tracker works in real-time. You can set up the system with a “digital fence” that immediately sends a message to your cell phone, warning that your RV isn’t where it should be. Park your RV at a storage lot? Set up a “digital fence” around the storage yard. If the RV moves outside the storage yard, you’ll know it right away and can immediately see where it is.

And the cost?

How much does a GPS tracker cost? Prices can start at less than $20; typically they range a bit higher, up into the $60 dollar range. Sounds good, eh? You’ll also typically pay a monthly monitoring fee. We’ve seen fees of around $6 a month, and up into the $12 range. When talking about monitoring fees, it’s often a “get whatcha pay for” situation. The less expensive monitoring fees (or those included “free” with the purchase of the tracker) usually go with monitors that report where the tracker is every few minutes. Spend more money on monitoring, the tracker may report location every few seconds. If your rig is stolen, more frequent reports will likely make it easier to find a “rolling RV.”

Unlike some equipment, most GPS trackers and monitoring services are tied together. It’s not like buying an alarm system for your “sticks-and-bricks” house, then shopping for the lowest price monitoring team. Buy a vehicle tracker, and be ready to be stuck with the seller until death do you part.

Tiny with battery?

While the major differences between types of GPS trackers come down to “track by request” versus real-time trackers, there are other considerations when it comes to the choice of devices. All GPS trackers require electricity to operate. Some come with batteries built-in. It makes it easy to switch them back and forth between vehicles and to discreetly hide them in the RV. It wouldn’t do you much good if the bad guys found your GPS tracker and squished it like an unwelcome bug. Or worse, tossed it in some unsuspecting fellow’s car—leading police on a wild goose chase.

Plug and play?

But battery convenience comes with a price. Batteries only last so long—and it varies between brands and models. You may be happy with a battery-powered tracker, particularly if you don’t leave your RV stored somewhere for months on end. Other GPS trackers connect to the RV power system using the OBD-II “computer port.” That may work for you in your motorhome, provided your computer port is indeed an OBD-II variety. Of course, crooks might just take a peek under your dashboard, spot your tracker, and unplug it before they play. Or if you use your OBD-II port for other purposes, it’s a no-go. And towables, of course, don’t have an OBD-II port to plug into.

Hardwire it!

You may find a 12-volt “hardwire” GPS tracker makes more sense. It will take a bit more to get your tracker set up. You’ll need to find a suitable, hidden location (back of a cabinet, etc.) within reach of 12-volt electrical wiring you can tap into. And, yes, the wiring will need to be “hot” 24/7. An ideal spot might just be in a cabinet near your rig’s 12-volt fuse box. Make sure you’re competent with fiddling around with the electrics. If you’re unsure, spend a few bucks to have a technician install it for you.

Where can you track down a GPS tracker? Here’s a link to Amazon, which carries a wide variety of trackers. And, yes, if you make a purchase from Amazon, gets a bird-dog fee. Thanks in advance!



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9 months ago

I have been very happy with the Trak-4 system. Inexpensive, accurate, user-friendly app, small and easily-concealed, user-defined geo-fences, and VERY responsive tech support.
Oh, and I also use a big chain through the wheels of my Casita, along with a good insurance policy!!!

Teri Dismont
9 months ago

Car jacking boot? Are there special sizes for larger tires? Where to find for RV? Very interested in getting one.

9 months ago

I had a friend who used a GPS tracker and still couldn’t track it. The police said the professional thieves use military grade jammers that can block the signal and use a scanning device to locate it. I do keep a second cell phone on a charger hidden in my trailer with the 360 app on it. I also keep a car jacking boot on one of the wheels.

Last edited 9 months ago by Richard
9 months ago

I wonder if any of these trackers sell the tracking information to companies like all apps do on your cell phone?

9 months ago

I have purchased & returned 4 or 5 different trackers. None really got the job done.

It is very hard to decide which one gets the job done in unique circumstances and detailed reviews and comparisons would be a lifes work! Too much time!

You get what you pay for. For rigs with electrical systems there are many robust solutions to try, but for trailers, dollys, e-bikes etc it becomes much more difficult…

For systems with subscription tracking you don’t have any idea how the system will meet your needs until you try it. Most don’t let you try it unless you subscribe. It is very hard to try before you buy if you spent $100 or more on the subscription.

Many of the cheaper models are chinese or Singaporean. Support and documentation can be very spotty! Also it doesn’t help us share success stories if the make & models appear and disappear on Amazon, daily!

Name brand is the key here!

9 months ago
Reply to  TIM MCRAE

So for small to medium stuff I have settled on Tile & Apple tags. Not great from a tracking perspective but easy to hide and long battery life. What I really like is, for a tracking fee, Tile will ensure small items for $100 if they go missing and Tile can’t find it. For a larger fee ($100/yr) you get $1000 insurance. Great for tow dolly & e-bikes.

For vehicles I HIGHLY recommend Drone Mobile. This is a tracking company that integrates with your vehicle alarm or remote start or comes all in one with remote start / alarm, and tracking as an add on. Cost is higher, subscription can be higher for full tracking but it is well worth it. I buy the 5 year plan (very reasonable). It has it’s own gps/cell radio and reports your vehicles temp, battery, instant alarm notification, location and tracking on a live map. Bonus you can lock and unlock your doors and start you engine anywhere you have full coverage.

Great for topping off your batteries when you’re not close by or checking to see if your doors are locked.

I have actually started my engine which fires up my wifi cameras so I can see what’s going on with the rig!

Yes, I love it!

9 months ago
Reply to  TIM MCRAE

Thank you very much, that is exactly what I wanted. Previously I skipped getting the GPS stuff because much of it appeared to be kind of iffy. I am going to see if this qualifies for an insurance reduction.

9 months ago

Now that is info I can use. Honest and impartial. Refreshing it is not a sales pitch. Thank you Russ and Tina De Maris

Last edited 9 months ago by friz

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