By Dave Helgeson
We all take steps to keep ourselves and our RV safe while on the road. But how many take extra steps to deter burglars from our homes while on the road?
Pages have been written here and elsewhere about staying safe from crime while RVing. However, little has been written about how to deter burglars from burglarizing your home in your absence while RVing. Full-timers no longer have to worry about a sticks-and-bricks house, but what about the rest of us? Personally, my home has been burglarized twice over the past 40 years while my wife and I have been traveling. After the last burglary, I studied up and doubled down on the steps I take to deter burglars from my home. So far, so good.
Here is what I learned and the steps I take to deter burglars:
Monitor the premises
Having a set of eyes or more on your home lets potential burglars know it is being watched.
- Let trusted neighbors know you will be departing on an RV trip and to keep an eye on your place. You might also ask them to pick up any papers lying in your driveway along with removing any door hangers placed by solicitors. By making your home look lived in you will deter burglars from targeting your house.
- Make use of the Vacation Home Watch service if offered by local law enforcement. Seeing a marked law enforcement vehicle randomly stopping at your home from time to time is a sure way to deter burglars.
- Install cameras inside and outside of your home that you can monitor via your smartphone while you are away. Be sure and look up the non-911 number for the law enforcement agency in your hometown. Add it to the contact list in your cell phone. If you ever do spot someone burglarizing your home via a camera while enjoying a distant point in your RV, calling 911 isn’t going to be very effective. That’s because it will connect to law enforcement in the vicinity of your campsite, not your hometown.
- Having a housesitter is the ultimate set of eyes to have on your home, if you have a trusted friend or relative that is available to do so.
Make some noise
Crime experts agree that noise is one of the best ways to deter burglars as they don’t want to draw attention to themselves.
- Install audio annunciators around the exterior of your home. The audible tone will tell would-be burglars that their presence on your property has been detected. They have no idea what the annunciators are connected to. Therefore, they have no idea if it has alerted the police, a neighbor, etc.
- Install vibration alarms on your windows and doors. These devices will deter burglars by emitting a loud, shrill siren when someone bangs on a window or door.
- Use a Wireless Motion-Sensing Control Transmitter with an Outlet Receiver to activate source noise. When motion is detected by the sensing control outside your home it will activate the outlet receiver turning on a radio or other 120V device of your choosing in your home. The sudden and unexpected noise will deter burglars as they will question if someone is home.
Varying light sources to deter burglars
Lights can be used to indicate your home is occupied and expose burglars to others.
Set lights on timers to mimic your normal home routine.
- Use a fake TV to simulate the flickering light of the real thing as it bounces off walls in the house or is seen through window shades. Would-be burglars will think the home is occupied and move on to a different target.
- Install real or fake security cameras with indicator lights on the exterior of your home to deter burglars. Knowing/thinking the house is monitored will likely send would-be burglars to an easier payday.
- As suggested for noise, above, use a Wireless Motion-Sensing Control Transmitter with an Outlet Receiver to activate an interior light source. When motion is detected by the sensing control outside your home, it will activate the outlet receiver, turning on a lamp or other 120V light source of your choosing in your home. While burglars might expect an exterior motion detector that activates an exterior flood lamp, seeing an unexpected light source come on within the home, as if the resident turned it on, will likely change their plans. Roaming neighborhood cats will also randomly trip the sensor, keeping anyone watching the house guessing if the occupants are home or not.
- Install motion lights that will illuminate exterior doors and other vulnerable parts of your home when motion is detected. Being suddenly lit up and exposed to the neighbors will deter burglars from proceeding.
Criminals are opportunists. Don’t make their job easier by announcing you are not home.
- Don’t share your real-time location on social media while away from home in your RV. While it’s tempting to post pictures of your awesome campsite and the beautiful scenery you are enjoying, it could let a burglar know you are not currently at home and not likely to return soon. With all the information on the internet, it only takes a few clicks for a criminal to determine where you live. Even if you have a housesitter, why invite trouble? Save posting pictures until you return home. Friends and family will enjoy them just as much then.
- Loose lips sink ships! Only tell people you trust that you are leaving on a trip and do so in private. Who knows who else is listening to your conversation while you are standing in line at the grocery store, getting your hair done, etc.?
- Question if you should suspend services. When you suspend a service like garbage collection, you are not only telling those in your neighborhood that you aren’t home, but also the person responding to your request at the garbage service office, the garbage truck driver, internet hackers and whoever else they care to share the information with.
Reinforce points of entrance
Burglars like homes that they can easily gain access to. Deter burglars by reinforcing entry points with tried-and-true methods.
- Bar doors and windows to make it more difficult for a burglar to gain access to your home.
- Install deep throw deadbolts and reinforced strike plates on all entry doors to make your doors harder to force open.
Deter burglars by implementing some or all of these items. The peace of mind knowing that your home is secure will allow you to fully enjoy your RV and destination.