By Mike Sokol
Yes, I know we all worry about a thief stealing stuff from our RVs, especially if we’re away from the campsite on a day trip. After all, it’s obvious to any would-be thief that an RV is likely a treasure trove of expensive items, many of which are highly portable and fence-able.
And I also know that some of you may have considered installing an active deterrent to anyone breaking into your RV, such as electrifying the door handle so that any would-be thief would be painfully shocked if they attempted to break into it. After all, isn’t this what we do for cattle with electric fences?
And I will admit that all sorts of movie and television comedies as well as pop stars have made the idea of “electrocution” on stage or in print “funny” for decades. Here’s one such example of Lady Gaga faking her own “electrocution” on stage. Didn’t happen, it was just a staged joke for a concert. NOT FUNNY, LADY G.
In fact, I’ve had a number of readers over the years seriously suggest that creating an RV hot-skin voltage and electrifying the RV ON PURPOSE would be a good deterrent to thieves. Sounds simple enough, right? However, to install something like that on your RV would leave you open to all sorts of liability issues if someone touching your RV was shocked or electrocuted (killed by electric shock). Doing so would be the equivalent of an old B-movie about gangsters setting trip wires that would pull the trigger on a shotgun if someone entered the front door of the house (another very bad idea).
So when RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury sent me a link to the Shock Plate door lock cover last month I was a bit disturbed by the idea. Here was a new (2019) company advocating installing a gadget over the door handle of your RV that would produce a painful (but supposedly non-lethal) shock for any would-be thief who tried to open the door of your RV. Here’s what their website says about this device.
So let me make this perfectly clear. You should NEVER install any sort of theft deterrent device on your RV that could harm someone from electric shock, even if that person was attempting to break into your RV. Even if you only startle them enough to fall off the RV steps and hit the ground, it’s still an injury that you caused by installing such a device. Everything I read about this type of gadget says it’s illegal for you to do so, and the lawsuit potential is enormous.
Should you add better door and compartment locks, YES. Install a GPS tracker that will activate if someone steals your RV, YES. Put up cameras that will record and automatically upload pictures of any thieves to the authorities, YES. Get the best insurance you can find, YES. But creating a shock hazard, on purpose, for anyone touching the door handle of your RV, NO. It’s a terrible idea that could come around to bite you if someone gets hurt, even if that someone is a thief.
Also remember, if a thief really wanted to bypass this Shock Plate device, all they would have to do is wear gloves. So the only ones getting shocked (and potentially injured) will likely be non-thieves such as your campground neighbor (maybe with a heart condition?) who wants to visit, or a small child who can’t read the warning on the sign. DON’T DO IT!!!
Let’s play safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
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